News & Politics

Durham District Attorney Hints He Will Go Easy on Statue Vandals

This framegrab from a video shows Takiyah Thompson, a member of Workers World Party and student at N.C. Central University being arrested by Durham County Sheriff's deputies Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in Durham, N.C. Thompson was arrested in connection with the removal and vandalism of a Confederate statue Monday. Thompson, was arrested after activists held a press conference Tuesday. (Julia Wall /The News & Observer via AP)

Activists who toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier just days after Charlottesville perhaps thought they were doing God’s work … at least until they got arrested. At that moment, it’s hard to imagine that the enormity of what they’d done didn’t slam into them. After all, they’d destroyed public property and been stupid enough to do so on video.

But perhaps they need not worry too much. It seems that the district attorney is going to let Leftist ideology mitigate his prosecution:

If you don’t mind feeling nauseated, check out this statement by Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols, in which he explains the factors he will consider in determining “a just resolution” to the case of those who destroyed the public monument in Durham. Echols says he will balance accountability for the destruction of property against the “climate in which these actions were undertaken.” He seems to believe that a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, after which one neo-Nazi ran over counter-protesters, is a partial justification, or at least a mitigating circumstance, for the unlawful destruction of property in Durham.

Echols proceeds to double down on this lawless theory of “justice.” He claims that justice requires him to consider the “pain of recent events in Charlottesville, and the pain in Durham and the nation.” I must have been absent the day my criminal law professor discussed emotional pain as a defense for vandalism.

Echols’ novel theory is a recipe for anarchy. Michael “Gentle Giant” Brown is shot in Ferguson? Smash some windows. Trayvon Martin is killed in Florida? Loot whitey’s store. You may be prosecuted, but if Roger Echols has his way you may get off lightly because of your pain.

I’m not a lawyer, but doesn’t the “climate in which these actions were undertaken” have nothing to do with justice? If the statue had been destroyed by a handful of drunk college kids who just thought it would be funny, would Echols approach it differently? It sounds like he would, and that is a problem.

By coming right out and say that he intends to pursue a less than vigorous prosecution because of the news cycle, Echols gives notice to future angry mobs.

Would conservatives get the same consideration? Probably not. This is the rule of men, not the rule of law.