The Durham Sheriff Says the Bungled Confederate Monument Case Wasn’t His Fault | News
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Friday, March 16, 2018

The Durham Sheriff Says the Bungled Confederate Monument Case Wasn’t His Fault

Posted by on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 11:27 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

In an interview with the Herald-Sun’s Virginia Bridges, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews defended his department’s handling of the Confederate monument toppling, first by saying deputies thought the statue was bolted to the base (it wasn’t) and then saying they turned over twenty videos to the DA’s office (the DA’s office said it never got them and presented two others in court).
  • Andrews says his deputies didn’t interfere in the toppling because “he didn’t want anyone to get hurt, Andrews said. He didn’t want the chaos from Charlottesville to spread to Durham, he said. ‘If we started going out and dispersing tear gas or arresting people what would that have evolved into for Durham?’ Andrews asked. ‘This is my home. This is where I grew up. And I would not want to be put in the position where innocent people were hurt.’”
  • He also said he didn’t think the protesters would be able to take the statue down: “That mistaken belief was one of many factors that influenced how the Sheriff’s Office handled the post-Charlottesville demonstration Aug. 14 in which local activists placed a ladder at the back of the nearly century-old Confederate statue. Takiyah Thompson climbed the ladder and threw a strap down to people gathered at its base who easily pulled the soldier down, the statue crumpling as it hit the ground.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The judge who heard the case, the DA who prosecuted it, and the sheriff who asked for felony charges are all on the ballot this year, and they’re all pointing fingers at each other. The judge told the Durham GOP that the assistant district attorney was “third string” and the prosecutors blew it. The DA hit back against the judge, saying they presented the best case the sheriff’s office gave them. And now the sheriff’s office is saying they gave the DA a good case, but the DA blew it.
  • For these three elected officials, their handling of this high-profile case is going to be key for their job security, which is why they’re all pointing fingers at someone else, insisting someone else dropped the ball and that’s why what should have been a slam-dunk case ended without a conviction.
  • I have a hunch—no proof, just a gut feeling—that the DA’s office wasn’t really sad to lose. For starters, this was a misdemeanor trial over damage to a statue nobody really wanted (though Andrews told Bridges he thought the statue had value) that could have turned into a real political problem—imagine the reaction if Roger Echols had actually scored felony convictions and gotten the Defend Durham folks locked up. But at the same time, they can’t be seen as ignoring blatant law-breaking, so the DA’s office had to go through the motions. But when the judge threw out two cases and found the third not guilty, Echols immediately dismissed the rest. This wasn’t the hill he wanted to die on.

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