DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham County sheriff announced Tuesday his office will seek charges against the protesters who pulled down a Confederate statue outside a North Carolina courthouse Monday evening, WTVD reports.
In a statement, Sheriff Mike Andrews said he was grateful that no one was hurt and that county leaders decided to act with restraint towards the demonstrators.
“Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority. As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue,” he said.
The monument of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle was erected in 1924 and inscribed on it are the words “in memory of the boys who wore the gray.”
Later Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted reaction, saying, “the racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments.”
The crowd was small in numbers but steadily grew to more than 100.
As the crowd became more animated, several protesters approached the monument, climbing it and attaching a yellow nylon rope around it. The protesters then pulled until the soldier came crashing to the ground.
The protest was organized in response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. Organizers of the Durham gathering said their goal was to “smash white supremacy.”
It’s not the first time that the monument, which depicts a Confederate soldier with the words “In memory of the boys who wore the gray,” has been vandalized since it was erected in 1924.
In July 2015, someone spray painted “Black Lives Matter” on the base of the monument.