Photo by Daniel Hosterman
Takiyah Thompson is taken into custody by the Durham County Sheriff's Office leaving a press conference at NCCU this afternoon.
Takiyah Thompson, who climbed a Confederate monument in Durham Monday, securing around it the rope that pulled it crashing to the ground, was arrested leaving a press conference today.
Thompson, a North Carolina Central University student and member of the Workers World Party, was leaving NCCU, where organizers of Monday's rally in front of a Durham county government building had been holding a press conference. Her arrest comes just hours after Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews announced his agency would be pursuing felony charges against those who participated in toppling the statue and that "no one is getting away with what happened."
During the Tuesday afternoon press conference, Thompson discussed why she climbed the monument.
“I chose to do that because I’m tired of living in fear," she said. "I’m tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the necks of people who look like me. That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in and it had to go."
She also called out Governor Roy Cooper, who after Monday's rally, said "there is a better way to remove these monuments." Minutes after Thompson's arrest, Cooper, via a post on Medium
, called on legislators to repeal a 2015 law that protects monuments from removal and said he was asking the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources "to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments."
"If there was a better way the statue wouldn't have been standing for nearly one hundred years. I think what we did was the best way, and not just the best way, but the only way, because the state, the Klan and white supremacists have been collaborating," Thompson said. "So what we did not only was it right it was just. I did the right thing. Everyone who was there the people did the right thing ... Every Confederate statue and every vestige of white supremacy has to go."
Thompson is charged with:
-Disorderly conduct by injury to a statue (Class II Misdemeanor)
-Damage to real property (Class I Misdemeanor)
-Participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class H Felony)
-Inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class F Felony)
According to Tamara Gibbs, a Sheriff's Office spokesperson, "the Sheriff’s Office has executed search warrants in connection with the vandalism of the Confederate statue." The Sheriff's Office says "additional arrests are expected."
During the press conference, organizers — who included members of Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Inside-Outside Alliance, BYP100, Durham Beyond Policing, and Southerners on New Ground — demanded that any charges against demonstrators be dropped, that Cooper order all Confederate monuments removed and that Durham County Commissioners and Sheriff's Office personnel attend a community forum "to answer for their heinous crimes that they wage against black people, against migrants, against poor people, against incarcerated people, against undocumented people, LGBTQ people, women and all working class people in Durham," said organizer Loan Tran.
"... This is the time now to pick a side," Tran said, "and you either pick the side of the people who are fighting for justice and liberation, or you pick the side of people who are trying to murder those seeking justice and liberation."
Update: According to Workers World Party Durham Branch, Thompson has been released from jail: