By February 20, 2018posted on
UPDATE: On Feb. 20, the Durham district attorney announced that all charges have been dropped against all the Durham defendants, including five who were to have gone to trial on April 2.
People power won the day here on Feb. 19, as three anti-racist activists went to trial on charges stemming from the toppling of a Confederate monument on Aug. 14. The three beat the charges.
The trial was held six months after righteous action by the people of Durham brought down the monument.
After months of political pressure, the state decided to break the trials against the eight freedom fighters into separate proceedings.
Felony riot charges the eight had faced were dropped last month, thanks to pressure and solidarity from the anti-racist movement around the country.
The state’s presumptive motivation may have been their estimation that they had a better chance of convicting the activists on the three misdemeanor charges each faced: defacing a public building or monument, conspiracy to deface a public building or monument, and injury to real property.
Instead, the people’s movement against white supremacy and in support of these anti-racist fighters emerged victorious. Raul Jimenez was acquitted of all charges. The charges against Dante Strobino and Peter Gilbert were dismissed outright.
“Today is a small victory,” said Raul Jimenez at the rally after the trials ended. “Two of us had our charges dismissed, and I was found not guilty. This is a reminder that tearing down monuments to white supremacy is not a crime! It shows that the whole world is watching. It’s a reminder that there are people who not only support what happened here in Durham, but support their communities doing the same thing we did here. White supremacy is not welcome anywhere. We will continue to fight.”
Strobino added, “The judge thought this was going to be an easy conviction. Today showed that the power of the people can overcome the state.”