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Protesters Bring Down Confederate Monument in North Carolina

Durham Confederate statue

All representations of white supremacy need to be removed, say organizers of the Durham action.

Protesters in Durham, N.C., pulled down a Confederate monument on county property Monday night, saying representations of white supremacy need to be removed.

The action was at least partly a reaction to the Unite the Right rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, local media report. The Charlottesville participants said they were motivated by the city's plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park, and they were met with counterprotests.

The monument in Durham was a statue of a generic Confederate soldier, not a specific person like Lee. It stood in front of the former Durham County Courthouse, now used to house county offices.

More than 100 people gathered around the statue early Monday evening to demand its removal, and eventually they tied a rope around it and pulled it to the ground, reports Raleigh TV station WNCN. The statue has stood at the location since 1924, with an inscription that reads, "In memory of 'the boys who wore the gray.'"

"It needs to be removed," Loan Tran, an organizer of the action, told the TV station earlier Monday. "These Confederate statues in Durham, in North Carolina, all across the country. ... When I see a Confederate statue in downtown Durham, or really anywhere, it fills me with a lot of rage and frustration."

Groups represented at the Durham gathering included the Triangle People's Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Antifa movement, reports The News & Observer of Raleigh. Several of the participants had attended the counterprotests in Charlottesville, where at one point a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring nearly 20 people.

The removal of Confederate monuments in North Carolina and elsewhere is necessary "so that no more innocent people have to be killed," organizers of the Durham event said in a press release, according to The News & Observer.

They also saw the Trump administration as promoting white supremacy. "Charlottesville and racist monuments across the country are the result of centuries of white supremacy," said Alissa Ellis, a member of Workers World Party Durham branch, the paper reports.

"But we cannot ignore the fact that the current Trump administration has emboldened more Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists to target, brutalize, and kill our communities," she went on. "The White House and its elected white supremacists are just as responsible as hooded Klansmen and racist vigilantes for what happened. They have blood on their hands."

The statue was protected by a 2015 North Carolina law prohibiting state agencies and local governments from removing any "object of remembrance" on public property that "commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina's history." The Durham County Sheriff's Department videotaped the toppling of the statue, but there's no word yet on whether there will be legal action against the protesters.

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