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In August protesters were charged with destroying a Confederate statue that had stood in downtown Durham, North Carolina since 1924. The statue was torn down during a rally against racism following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. A total of thirteen people were arrested in conjunction with the events that led to the monument being torn down. 

Now it seems charges against at least three of those people have been dropped – Aaron Alexander Caldwell, Myles Spigner, and Taylor Cook. Defense attorney Scott Holmes made the announcement to the media that the charges would be dropped. Despite the fact that probable cause exists, Holmes claims that there was not enough evidence in his estimation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He claims that the three people whose charges were dismissed were “absolutely innocent” and does not believe there was even probable cause for their arrest despite the fact that there is video of the events taking place.

A group of protesters in Durham toppled a Confederate monument Monday evening.<br/>Reporter: Adam Owens

This move marks the first by prosecutors in the case against the thirteen charged back on August 15 in the destruction of the 90-year-old historic statue.

District Attorney Roger Echols issued a warning that the dismissal of the charges against these three individuals should not be seen as any sort of indication of what is to come regarding the remaining ten cases.

Echols states –

“Cases continue to be reviewed until they are disposed. No one should take our dismissals of those three as an indication of what will or won’t happen in the others.”

Of those remaining ten cases, seven of them are still charged with a variety of misdemeanors and felonies as it relates to the toppling of the historical statue.  They are expected to appear in Durham County District Court on Tuesday to answer the charges against them.  Their current charges include felony inciting a riot to cause property damage in excess of $1,500 and misdemeanor damage to real property.

There has been a debate among some city and county elected officials about the statue’s value and whether those involved in the toppling should be charged with a felony. Under normal circumstances, felony cases would go before a grand jury within 120 days of the accused’s first court appearance.  If the grand jury, in turn, issues a felony indictment, then the case would be bound over from District Court to Superior Court. This would allow for an additional 30 days approximately to allow the case to progress forward.

At this point, some officials are considering whether to pursue the felony charges or if some sort of plea deal will be offered from the District Attorney’s office. Commissioners estimated the Confederate soldier statue on top of the pedestal to be worth $23,789 and the replacement cost to be $28,000.

The group responsible for the destruction of the historical statute is known as Defend Durham – a radical Communist group associated with the Marxist World Workers Party.  The group issued a statement with regard to the dismissal of the charges, stating this was a small step forward in the fight against white supremacy.  The group actively advocates for releasing all prisoners, even violent felons as well as doing away with all police officers.

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