Three protesters who vandalized, then toppled, a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina, will not face charges for causing property damage or taking part in what authorities called, at the time, a riot.
Local media reports that the Durham District Attorney dropped all charges against five suspects arrested for helping to topple the monument as part of a protest that took place last August after a judge, on Monday, dismissed charges against two other defendants and found a third not guilty.
"I do believe the evidence supported the misdemeanor charges, and we proceeded on those charges," the DA, Roger Echols, told media during a press conference Tuesday. "Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still violations of law."
But since the judge set to rule on the several cases had no intention of punishing the suspects for their crimes, Echols noted that, “for my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources. For that reason, I will dismiss the remaining charges against the remaining defendants.”
Back in August, the several protesters, responding to a nationwide call to scrub Confederate monuments from the public square, climbed the monument during what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration, tied a strap around the monument's neck, and encouraged other protesters to pull it down. The actions divided the community; the statue had been in place since 1924.
At the time, sheriff's deputies arrested 22 year-old student Takiyah Fatima Thompson for causing the property damage and "inciting to riot." Thompson was one of the protesters declared not guilty on Monday.