According to a report in the New York Times, the white supremacists were protesting the city's plans to remove the statue after numerous requests by some residents and African-American civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P).
On April 9, 1865, near the town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, the alleged driver of the vehicle, has been charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding.
The Confederate States of America was an unrecognized confederation of secessionist USA states whose regional economy was mostly dependent upon agriculture, which in turn largely relied upon the labor of black slaves.
On Tuesday morning, the Durham County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying, "collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority", but they will seek charges against the protesters who pulled down the statue.
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The crowd outside the old Durham County courthouse on East Main Street started off small but began to grow, peaking when the bronze statue of an armed, uniformed soldier wearing a hat fell to the ground.
The leader of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Doug Nash, said Tuesday he's disappointed by the toppling of the statue as well as other recent violence. The statue has stood at the location since 1924, with an inscription that reads, "In memory of 'the boys who wore the gray'". Two organizations turned down the board's offer of receiving "Old Joe" before the United Daughters of the Confederacy agreed to relocate it. The vandals spray painted the words "f*** fascists" onto the marble base of the statue.
The crowd of demonstrators were part of a planned protest to show solidarity with Charlottesville, Va., the scene of the massive racist jamboree that happened over the weekend. The historical commission in that state denied a 2015 request from Memphis officials to remove a Confederate statue from a city park. "And we are asking the county commissioner and sheriff to stand on the right side and not stand on the side of white supremacy in this instance", the female activist said. Durham Police remained close by but kept their distance from the protesters.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at a news conference Saturday that he had a message for "all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Go home".