North Carolina DA drops charges against Confederate statue protesters

Judge says the prosecution failed to prove its case.

North Carolina District Attorney Roger Echols announced that he will be dropping the charges against the five people who were accused of destroying a Confederate statue last summer.

Confederate statue
A statue of Confederate naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, unveild in 1929, stands at the intersection of Monument Avenue and North Belmont Avenue August 23, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's Monument Avenue Commission -- composed of academics, historians and community leaders --will include an examination of the removal or relocation of some or all of the city's Confederate statues, which depict Civil War Gens. Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Stonewall Jackson; President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis; and Confederate naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, North Carolina District Attorney Roger Echols announced that he will be dropping the charges against the five people who were accused of destroying a Confederate statue last summer.

Echols made the announcement a day after prosecutors presented all of their evidence against Raul Mauro Jimenez, who was acquitted, and Peter Gilbert and Dante Strobino, who had the charges against them dropped.

The judge decided to drop the charges and acquit Jimenez because the evidence failed to prove the defendants’ guilt in the charges of injury to real property, defacing a public building or monument and conspiracy to deface a public building or monument.

Since that same evidence was going to be used in the cases against the other five protesters, Echols said that it didn’t make sense to continue to pursue the case, according to the Herald Sun. Takiyah Thompson, Elena Everett, Jessica Nicole Jude, Qasima Wideman and Joseph Karlik are all off the hook and will no longer face a trial on April 2.

“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols said.

Echols also mentioned that the charges would be dismissed against Loan Tran, who had in December accepted a deferred prosecution on three misdemeanors and agreed to pay a fine and do community service.


“In this case, fairness requires that similar cases be treated similarly,” Echols said.

They still violated the law

However, Echols made it clear that the decision didn’t mean that the protesters shouldn’t have faced consequences for their actions, either.

“Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still a violation of law,” he said.

Sheriff Mike Andrews‘s office agreed with that assessment, noting that law enforcement had been upholding the law when they arrested the protesters.

“We applied the law for the removal and damage of public property–just as we would in any other case,” Andrews said in a statement. “It’s up to the court system to decide what happens next. The Sheriff’s Office is going to continue doing its job by serving and protecting our community and upholding the law.”

Not everyone is happy about the decision

The N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans released a statement after Echols’ decision deploring “Durham County’s complete disregard for law and order.”


“As a smirking defense clumsily laid out its case with nothing but obfuscation of the facts and irrelevant theories as to the origin of the Confederate monument, the prosecution fumbled to make even the most basic case to support the charges,” the statement said. “There is no true justice in Durham–there is only the will of the political party in control and their open sympathy with the violent, twisted objectives of the Workers World Party.”