Takiyah Thompson, a 22-year-old student activist who participated in tearing down a Confederate statue during a protest in Durham, North Carolina has been released from jail. Thompson is now one of four people as of Wednesday afternoon who have been arrested for damaging the monument, a move that many are calling out as unjust.
On Monday, Thompson and several other demonstrators removed a Confederate Soldiers Monument in front of local government offices in Durham, North Carolina during a public protest. The demonstration was in response to the “Unite the Right” rallies held by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
Thompson, a student at the historically black college North Carolina Central University, was arrested by police on campus after admitting to tying the rope used to pull the statue down during a press conference on Tuesday. The Herald Sun reports that Thompson was charged with two misdemeanor and two felony charges which include disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, damage to real property, participation in a riot, damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500.
During the 4 p.m. press conference after which police arrived to apprehend her on Tuesday, Thompson maintained that her actions and the actions were justified, telling ABC News 11, “We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”
The student activist was showered with support online, with several crowdfunding campaigns launched to help her with bail and legal fees. Singer Solange Knowles also voiced support on Tuesday, tweeting before deleting her Twitter account:
“Deleting my twitter soon, but before I dip when we gonna pull up? & what we got to do to get my new hero Takiya Thompson free?”
Thompson has since been released from jail on bail, but the charges against her have not been dropped. She could face 25 months and 41 months in prison for each felony charge.
Meanwhile, CBS news affiliate WFMY reported on Wednesday that three more people have been arrested in connection with pulling down the monument. They are Durham residents 35-year-old Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 39-year-old Peter Gull Gilbert and 24-year-old Ngoc Loan Tran. The pair is charged with the same misdemeanor and felony charges as Thompson.
More arrests related to the toppled statue are reportedly expected.
Dr. Yaba Blay, a professor at NCCU who taught Thompson in a Black Lives Matter course last spring, told HuffPost that the “brilliant” student has received hate mail and death threats from white supremacists in the wake of her arrest.
“Me, just a professor who is trying to support her, I’ve also received the same,” Blay said.
“I’m concerned about her safety but I’m also concerned about the charges, because we’re talking about felony charges. It’s a big deal.”
Thompson, who is set to return to a Durham Country court on September 12, will reportedly be represented by a law professor at NCCU.
Activists on Twitter including Shaun King have pointed out that while Thompson was arrested, several white supremacists have yet to face consequences for their violent actions during demonstrations over the last several days.
For Blay, the arrests are a telling reminder of racism in America. “It’s no surprise here that we find more value in statues of losers ― because the confederacy lost, lest we all forget ― than someone’s actual real life.”