A Durham County Sheriff’s Office Major Says Elected Officials May Be Obstructing Justice in the Confederate Monument Case | Triangulator | Indy Week

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A Durham County Sheriff’s Office Major Says Elected Officials May Be Obstructing Justice in the Confederate Monument Case

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Three more people wanted in connection with the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham earlier this month turned themselves in at the county jail Monday night. About thirty people joined Qasima Wideman, Jessica Jude, and Joseph Karlik as a show of solidarity. Their arrests bring the total of people charged to eleven.

Just hours before they turned themselves in, Durham Sheriff's Major Paul Martin issued a statement to The Herald-Sun saying local elected officials were creating "absolute anarchy" by questioning the charges filed in the August 14 protest. Demonstrators have been charged with misdemeanors for damaging the statue, as well as felony charges of inciting a riot. Several county and city officials have questioned publicly whether the felony charges are warranted.

In the statement, Martin says "some of the political leadership in Durham is in the process of establishing a dangerous precedent" and a climate that "encourages anarchistic and destructive actions as long as the political leadership agrees with the underlying philosophy of those engaged in such activities."

"Is it alright [sic] for the left to destroy or deface a monument but not the right?" Martin continued. "Are statements concerning the severity of criminal charges by county commissioners an effort to obstruct justice since they control the budget for the Sheriff as well as raises for the Sheriff and all his personnel?"

In an email to the INDY, Martin said the statement reflects his personal beliefs.

"I am only speaking for myself," he wrote.

Perhaps, but it's still hard to believe that a high-ranking member of the DCSO would have suggested that county commissioners are obstructing justice without Sheriff Mike Andrews's OK. (The Sheriff's Office referred the INDY's questions to Martin.)

Of course, the District Attorney's Office will ultimately decide what charges are prosecuted. In a press conference, DA Roger Echols announced he would only prosecute people directly involved in dismantling the statue and that he will take into account "the pain of recent events in Charlottesville and the pain in Durham and the nation."

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