*Law enforcement officials in North Carolina have announced plans to pursue criminal charges against those in a crowd of protesters who toppled a Confederate statue outside a Durham courthouse.
“I am grateful the events that unfolded Monday evening did not result in serious injury or the loss of life, but the planned demonstration should serve as a sobering example of the price we all pay when civil disobedience is no longer civil,” Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a statement to the local Indy Week newspaper.
Noting that his staff had met with “community partners” before Monday afternoon’s protest, which saw the destruction of a monument to Confederate soldiers, Andrews explained that “collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority” during the event itself.
But, Andrews continued: “As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.”
Praising his officers for their “great restraint and respect for the constitutional rights of the group expressing their anger and disgust for recent events in our country,” Andrews went on to say that he will seek input from community leaders to develop plans to address future protests.
The threat to prosecute those responsible for tearing down a symbol of hate and bigotry was met with an offer for pro-bono defense from North Carolina attorney, T. Gregg Doucette, who described the monument as a “statue to terrorists.”
Watch video of the toppling below: