The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Protesters in North Carolina topple Confederate statue following Charlottesville violence

Protesters tear down a statue called the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Durham, N.C. (Video: Reuters)
Placeholder while article actions load

A crowd toppled a bronze Confederate statue in front of a county administrative building in Durham, N.C., on Monday evening, as throngs of “anti-fascist” groups gathered there days after white nationalist-fueled violence turned fatal in Virginia.

Derrick Lewis, a reporter from the local CBS affiliate WNCN, posted a video to Twitter at 7:15 p.m. showing the statue crashing to the ground in front of the old Durham County Court House during what organizers billed as an “emergency protest.”

Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death in Charlottesville

With a strap tied around the neck of the statue, protesters spat, kicked and gestured at the mangled figure after its base was ripped from the granite block.

The statue, which depicts a uniformed and armed Confederate soldier, stood atop an engraved pedestal that read, “In memory of ‘the boys who wore the gray.’ ” It was erected in 1924 and stood 15-feet tall, according to a memorial database. One side of the granite pedestal depicts a Confederate flag.

“The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments,” Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said via Twitter on Monday evening.

A 2015 state law prohibits the removal of any “object of remembrance” on public property that commemorates an event, person or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history without legislative approval.

“I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct,” Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a written statement issued just after midnight Tuesday, adding that investigators are working to identify people responsible for the incident.

Groups at the rally included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America and the anti-fascist movement, the Herald Sun reported.

“Charlottesville and racist monuments across the country are the result of centuries of white supremacy,” Alissa Ellis, a member of Workers World Party Durham branch that was a participant in the Charlottesville protests, told the Herald Sun. Her group mobilized members on Facebook to attend the Durham event.

White nationalist Richard Spencer leads torch-bearing protesters defending Lee statue

Protesters have targeted the Durham monument before. The statue was spray-painted with a message reading “Black lives matter” in 2015.

On Saturday, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with protesters at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The fringe groups gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Protesters cheered as they tore down a Confederate monument in Durham, N.C. on Aug. 14. (Video: Stacy Ballantyne Murphy/Facebook)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said at a news conference Saturday that he had a message for “all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.”

During the rally, a car plowed into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, the alleged driver of the vehicle, has been charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding. A former teacher described Fields as a Nazi sympathizer.

Janell Ross contributed to this report.

The scene in North Carolina as protesters topple a Confederate statue

A protester kicks the toppled statue of a Confederate soldier after it was pulled down in Durham, N.C. Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Activists on Monday evening used a rope to pull down the monument outside a Durham courthouse. The Durham protest was in response to a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. (Casey Toth/The Herald-Sun via AP)

Read more:

Police officers in two states accused of mocking Charlottesville violence

Watch: Charlottesville counterprotesters shut down a white nationalist’s news conference

In the wake of Charlottesville protests, a Kentucky mayor wants to remove Confederate statues