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Confederate statue toppled during Monday protest in Durham, North Carolina

Investigators using video to find suspects, sheriff says

CNN  — 

Seven people have been arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue during a protest this week in Durham, North Carolina, authorities said.

The Confederate Soldiers Monument was pulled down during a Monday protest at the old Durham County Courthouse to show solidarity with anti-racist activists after last weekend’s deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Takiya Fatima Thompson, 22, was charged Tuesday with two felonies – participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot – and two misdemeanors – disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to property, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office said. She was held on $10,000 bond.

On Wednesday, Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 35, Ngoc Loan Tran, 24, and Peter Gull Gilbert, 39, were arrested on the same charges, the sheriff’s office said.

Three more alleged participants – Aaron Alexander Caldwell, Raul Mauro Arce Jimenez and Elena Everett – were arrested Thursday. They were each charged with one felony – inciting a riot – and three misdemeanors – injury to personal property less than $200, injury to real property and defacing a public monument.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said officers were executing search warrants and reviewing video shot at the scene.

The sheriff’s office said at least one person was expected to surrender Thursday. Additional arrests are expected.

Protesters used rope to pull down statue

From New York to California, demonstrations have been organized since Saturday’s death of Heather Heyer, who was protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Many demonstrators connected with each other through public Facebook events.

Protesters gathered Monday around the Confederate Soldiers Monument at the old courthouse in Durham as one person climbed a ladder and tied a rope to the top of the statue while the crowd chanted, “We are the revolution.”

Demonstrators pulled the rope and erupted in cheers as the statue fell to the ground. Some ran up to the mangled statue to kick and spit on it.

The statue, dedicated in 1924, depicts a soldier holding a gun on top of a concrete pillar. The pillar is engraved “In memory of the boys who wore gray.”

Andrews said county leaders discussed safety measures for the protest and the potential risk of injury to protesters or police. “Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority,” the sheriff said.

Durham police said no arrests were made at the scene because the incident occurred on county property. CNN has reached out to county officials for a statement.

What can communities do with Confederate monuments? Here are 3 options

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Tuesday calling for the removal of more Confederate monuments.

“I don’t pretend to know what it’s like for a person of color to pass by one of these monuments and consider that those memorialized in stone and metal did not value my freedom or humanity,” he said. “Unlike an African-American father, I’ll never have to explain to my daughters why there exists an exalted monument for those who wished to keep her and her ancestors in chains.”

Cooper said the state Legislature should repeal a 2015 law that prevents the removal or relocation of monuments so local governments and the state will have the authority to decide.

A state agency has been asked to determine the costs of removing Confederate monuments from state property and find alternative spots for their placement, Cooper said.

Cooper said he will also urge the Legislature to defeat a bill that grants immunity from liability to motorists who strike protesters.

In a statement, the Workers World Party said Thompson, a student at North Carolina Central University, was a member of the group “who climbed to the top of the statue to tie a rope around its neck before the crowd tore it down.”

“If the people decide they want to remove such a statue, that should be their right,” Workers World Party member Qasima Wideman said in the statement. The group also asked that charges be dropped.

CNN’s Jeremy Grisham, Tina Burnside and Jessica Suerth contributed to this report.