After the most recent showcase of violent white supremacy in Charlottesville last weekend, activists have been demanding the removal of confederate statues all across America. In Durham, North Carolina, a group of activists demonstrated their distaste for these racist symbols by taking down the Confederate Soldiers Monument that used to be in front of the old Durham County Courthouse after a rally.
While there have been no arrests yet of the white supremacists who mercilessly beat a counter-protester in Charlottesville, there have already been at least three arrests for the removal of the Confederate monument in Durham, and two of them are queer activists of color.
The first to be arrested was 22-year-old Takiyah Thompson, a student at North Carolina Central University. Takiyah is a black queer woman who was filmed tying a rope around the statue and helping to pull it down. Because her courageous acts were recorded, she was identified and charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Thompson spoke about what she did and why she did it.
“The sentiment that was expressed in Charlottesville is part and parcel of what built this country. And I know that Charlottesville can erupt anywhere…We’re seeing the rise of white nationalism, and we’re seeing the rise of actual resistance. And I’m not talking about writing your senator. I’m not talking about casting a ballot in a voting booth. I’m talking about voting with your actions. And people are doing that right now.”
In solidarity, two other queer activists turned themselves into the police earlier this week. Other activists have followed their lead, after their court date this morning, there was a line of activists waiting to turn themselves in as participants in the toppling of the Confederate monument. These accomplices believe that if Thompson has been arrested for trying to dismantle white supremacy, they should all be charged. Only nine people have active arrest warrants however, and the police have refused to arrest anyone without an active warrant against them. According to an update on the protests from Facebook, while many people are staying to make their voices heard, many people have also left because Nazis with guns are standing watch, and the fear of being shot is high.
Want to make sure you all saw this photo. It's the line of people in Durham waiting to turn themselves in for toppling the Confed statue. pic.twitter.com/2SNtWuoR64
— Celeste Headlee (@CelesteHeadlee) August 17, 2017
While Thompson was released on bail, she is still facing an upcoming court date, although activists worldwide have been calling for the the courts to drop all charges. The fight will be long and hard, as Thompson and the other two activists who have already been charged have refused public legal counsel and are being represented by NCCU Law professor Scott Holmes and his legal team. They’re relying on their communities to support them, and we must.
"We are organized, we are strong, we are steadfast" pic.twitter.com/ssyasH2wPF
— Linnie Supall (@LinnieSupall) August 17, 2017
You can donate to support Takiyah Thompson on Venmo. She originally had a GoFundMe set up, but because of the backlash of racists who believed she didn’t deserve the money, it was taken down. There is also a more general fund, the Durham Solidarity Center’s Freedom Fighter Bond Fund that you can donate to in order to provide help to all other North Carolina activists who have been arrested fighting against injustice. You can also call the Durham County Sheriff’s office where can ask for all charges against all people to be dropped: 919-808-3010.
After the deadly violence that happened in Charlottesville, it’s time for us to do more than denounce racism and bigotry with our words, we’ve got to make sure those who are putting their lives on the line — and who are usually queer people of color — are supported with as much of our time and our money that we can give them.