Labor support and a win for Durham freedom fighters

Breaking news from Durham: On Nov. 14, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols decided not to pursue any felony charges against #DefendDurham defendants for toppling a Confederate statue on Aug. 14. Our movement is powerful. After dozens of unions and community organizations spoke out, hundreds of phone calls, thousands of emails flooding the DA, we have overcome. We still have to beat back the misdemeanor charges. Onwards now to the People’s Tribunal! If you would like to testify about crimes of white supremacy, or want to be involved with the Commission of Inquiry, please direct message Workers World Party Durham Branch on Facebook. #SmashWhiteSupremacy

In one step toward victory in the fight against white supremacy in North Carolina, the Durham County district attorney dropped all felony and misdemeanor charges on Nov. 9 against three people present when Durham freedom fighters toppled a Confederate statue on Aug. 14.

Six of the people charged in connection with the statue takedown were to appear in court in Durham on Nov. 14. They face very serious penalties, including “misdemeanor damage to real property” and “felony inciting a riot to cause property damage in excess of $1,500,” which carries a potential sentence of 2 to 3½ years in prison.

Defend Durham, a community organization that has rallied around those who brought down the statue, issued a Nov. 9 statement on the dropping of charges against the three defendants. In part, the organization said: “We must remember that we cannot trust the system to change that which it upholds. This was merely representative of a lack of evidence, not an acquiescence of power. … We must continue to fight until the remaining [people charged] walk free, until no Confederate statues remain, until all institutions of white supremacy have been abolished.”

One of the defendants, Loan Tran, a member of Workers World Party, declared in a Nov. 12 Facebook post: “We won [the recent acquittals] because we organize and because we didn’t do anything wrong! Myself and 11 others are still facing ridiculous charges — among them two felony riot charges. … Let’s keep flooding the streets and the phone lines. Let’s indict this system for its true crimes — the countless evictions and cession of Black and Brown neighborhoods to developers; the unending murders of our people in the streets, in the jails, at the workplace, in detention centers; the total and unapologetic protection this system offers to the statues that literally enshrine and uphold white supremacy.”

Electrical Workers (UE) Local 150, North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, issued a rousing “Labor Call to Action” in support of the freedom fighters.

The local asks people to call Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols at 919-808-3010 and North Carolina state Senate President Phil Berger at 919-733-5708 on Nov. 14, the activists’ day in court. Callers are continuing to demand that all charges be dropped against all the activists as well as urging repeal of a recent state law passed to protect Confederate monuments by forbidding “removal of historical monuments.”

The UE call “to oppose white supremacy” reads in part: “The Durham action was another powerful expression of people’s anger and disgust with how the system uses its power to remind Black, Brown and oppressed people of their ‘place’ and ongoing oppression and exploitation.”

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