By Ingrid Castro Lara
Seven months ago, protesters pulled down a confederate statue downtown. Now, Durham city and county officials are deciding what to do with the empty space.
Because the monument was located in front of the old courthouse downtown, which is county property, the decision is up to Durham’s county commissioners. However, in 2015, the general assembly passed a law preventing state agencies and local governments from taking down any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.” This law puts limits on Durham county commissioners’ next step in the decision.
All over the United States, people have been fighting and protesting to remove confederate statues. Some residents have brought it upon themselves to remove the statues and have been arrested and charged with crimes, some misdemeanors, some felonies. Eight Durham residents were arrested for pulling down the statue.They were later charged, with felony and misdemeanor charges.
At Least two commissioners, said they don’t support felony charges.
“I definitely think felony is too extreme,” County Commissioner Heidi Carter said in a August 2017 Herald Sun Article Interview, “and doesn’t even really fit what happened based on what I think of as a riot.”
County Commission Chair women Wendy Jacobs does not support felony charges nor replacing the statue. “I know it was a comment I made, personally I don’t think confederacy should be on public property”
On Tuesday, Feb. 20 Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols announced that he was dropping all charges against the 5 remaining protestors.
The now-empty space downtown, has become a controversial topic between residents of the city. The board of commissioners are putting together a “Community Decision Process” to allow the community to be part of the decision. Applicants must have historical expertise in slavery, Jim crow, and the Civil Rights movement. Applicants must also have proof of residency and up to date taxes.
One thing that is beneficial for students who want to become part of the decision is there is no age limit according to Jacobs.
The application deadline is March 30. In April the board of commissioners will make their recommendations for five appointees to join the board. The county commission will seek input from the General Assembly and community members before making a final decision In the fall of 2018.