This is how a society erodes respect for the rule of law. It is a good way to pander to political correctness and social justice warrior jerks, though.
At the height of the mad fervor to tear down Confederate hero memorials and statues over the summer, Takiyah Thompson, 22, Dante Strobino, 35, Ngoc Loan Tran, 24, and Peter Gilbert, 39. pulled down a century-old statue of a generic Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina. This was done in front in front of news cameras and during the day.
Thompson is a student at North Carolina Central University, a black institution. The three men belong to the Workers World Party, which organized a Durham protest to piggy-back onto the Charlottesville, Virginia protests around the removal of a Statue of general Lee.
Notably, police spotted Tran at the court hearing for Thompson when a deputy asked him to help identify two people . Tran refused and he was arrested.
Tran explained the justification for the vandalism thusly: “Monday night hundreds of people gathered in front of the statue, and it was the will of everyone there that that statue come down knowing that in the state of North Carolina there is no legal route for removing Confederate statues.”
Of course there is a legal route for removing statues.
The four were charged with Disorderly conduct by injury to a statue (Class II misdemeanor), Damage to real property (statue as a fixture (Class I misdemeanor), 14-288.2(c) Participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class H felony), and 14-288.2(e) inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class F felony).
The faculty at North Carolina Central University declared Thompson a hero, and political science professor Allan Cooper called for Thompson to be given a scholarship. Last month, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols dropped all felony charges against the protesters, because their crime was popular among students and others.
There was no justification for leniency here. The crime was committed arrogantly and in defiance of the law. No respect for the community was in evidence, and the vandals never expressed any regrets. There wasn’t even a plausible historical argument to be made against the subject the statue represented. It was an anonymous, fictional soldier, like so many in North Carolina who fought for their state and died. Thompson, the firebrand of the group and the one who can claim the title of “Jerk of Jerks,” was indignant that any charges remained, saying:
“Since these outrageous charges were filed against us, thousands upon thousands of people from across the country have called the DA and other city officials demanding the charges be dropped.”
Apparently it is now outrageous to file destruction of public property charges when someone destroys public property worth thousands of dollars, at least when they think they have a good reason.
Writes Professor Turley, stating the obvious—or at least I thought it was obvious; it used to be obvious, I swear it was–writes:
…Echols is not supposed to treat popular and unpopular crimes differently. Otherwise, justice becomes an extension of the mob. That is why it is called mob justice to simply commit property damage when you believe that it is warranted.