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Takiyah Thompson, Dante Strobino, Loan Tran, Peter Gilbert, and the rest of our Workers World Party comrades who tore down the racist Confederate memorial in Durham should not face any charges for their actions. We thank them for having the courage to do what Durham should have done long ago, and we will stand in solidarity with them as police, elected officials, and right-wing extremists attempt to intimidate them in response to their heroism.

This past weekend’s events in Charlottesville are yet another indication of the racism afflicting this country. Emboldened by Trump, fascists and white nationalists are marching in our streets, preaching hate and violence. Heather Heyer was murdered for standing up to them, and nineteen others were injured. But Confederate memorials like the one our comrades destroyed in Durham are a stark reminder that this hatred is not new.

The violence in Charlottesville is another horrific bloom of an oppression growing from the very roots of our society. It is the same violence that killed Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Keith Lamont Scott, and so many others. It is the same violence embedded in a system that keeps unconvicted citizens in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay bail, that denies the incarcerated the chance to even touch their loved ones, that maintains stark wealth disparities, that brings ICE into schools, and that divests from neighborhoods and then gentrifies, forcing residents out. It is the violence of a country that still celebrates men who fought a bloody civil war for the right to own human beings as chattel.

The charges against our comrades, as well as the raids of other Workers World Party members’ homes, show that our local officials are placing the value of property above the value of a just community. Tearing down the symbols of hatred is not a crime—especially not when a legislature elected via illegally gerrymandered districts, which political scientists claim is no longer a democracy, forbids local communities from removing them through official channels.

We join our neighbors in Durham in calling on Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews to drop all charges against those involved in tearing down the statue, on Governor Roy Cooper to immediately remove Confederate memorials across the state, and on Durham County Commissioners and Durham City Council to put in place a democratic process that will allow the community—especially marginalized communities—to address their concerns about our enduring racist legacy.

– North Carolina Piedmont Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee

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