Getting Some of Their Own Medicine

The Herald Sun reports that the Durham County District Attorney has agreed to drop felony charges against the eight remaining defendants accused of tearing down and defacing a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham last summer:

[The defendants] were initially charged with felonies accusing them of participating in a riot with property damage over $1,500 and inciting others to riot with property damage over $1,500. They also faced misdemeanors accusing them of injury to personal property over $200, injury to real property, and defacing or injuring a public monument.

Although the defendants no longer face felonies, they each now face an additional misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to deface real property. …

Charges were dropped against three – Aaron Caldwell, Taylor Cook and Myles Spigner – of the of the 12 protesters originally charged for toppling the Confederate monument in the early weeks of last November.

“There was no actual visual evidence or any type of evidence that they would have participated in the physical toppling or pulling down of the property,” Echols said at the time.

Later, another protester agreed to deferred prosecution.

Loan Tran accepted the deferment of prosecution on three misdemeanor charges – injury to real property, damage to personal property and defacing a public monument – for helping to topple the statue. Tran also agreed to pay $1,250 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. Tran will also pay $180 in court costs. …

After the hearing, activist supporters filed out of the courtroom, joined others and formed a semicircle composed of around 30 individuals for what amounted to an impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps. Many of the activists worn black baseball caps with the white lettering, “Do It Like Durham.”

Tran told a small crowd, through a microphone, that many of the 13 original defendants have “continued” to receive threats. “Several have had car windows smashed on multiple occasions,” Tran said.

I’m confused. Is maliciously damaging property an acceptible form of expression or not?

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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