On the evening of August 14, a mob of vandals spilling over from a rally organized by several communist, socialist, and anarcho-syndicalist groups toppled a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier that had stood in front of a county administrative building in Durham, North Carolina, since 1924.
Derrick Lewis, a reporter from the local NBC affiliate WNCN, posted a video to Twitter showing the statue crashing to the ground. WNCN reported that one man quickly ran up and spat on the statue and several others began kicking it.
A report written by freelance journalist M.L. Nestel noted that just prior to the vandals’ destruction of the statue, protesters surrounded its base. Video circulating online captured the anger of the protesters, many shouting in chorus: “We, we are the revolution!” followed by “You can’t stop the revolution.”
Some demonstrators held up handwritten signs written on cardboard that read “Stop Calling the Cops,” “Fight your Local Nazis,” and a particularly vulgar sign reading: “F--- yo statue” as they closed in on the statue.
The protesters’ reference to “the revolution” makes perfect sense when one considers the affiliations of those participating. Durham’s Herald-Sun reported that groups at the “rally” included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Antifa movement.
“Antifa,” or “anti-fascists,” are considered to be a far-left group. However, some of the other groups involved are even more hardcore left.
The Workers World Party is a communist party founded in 1959 by Sam Marcy, whose followers split off from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). In an editorial in the third issue of the party’s publication, International Workers Day, the group proclaimed, “We are THE Trotskyists. We stand 100% with all the principled positions of Leon Trotsky, the most revolutionary communist since Lenin.” The WWP defended the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and has maintained a position of support for the communist government of North Korea.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed “Wobblies,” is an international labor union of anarcho-syndicalists (anarchists who want to use labor unions to topple the capitalist system) that was founded in 1905 in Chicago at a convention of 200 socialist, anarchists, Marxists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States. One of the IWW’s first leaders was Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who joined the Communist Party USA in 1926 and in 1961 became its chairwoman.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organization was a member of the Socialist International from its founding in 1982 until just this month. The DSA has its roots in the Socialist Party of America (SPA), whose most prominent leaders included Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, and Michael Harrington. Harrington was chairman of the League for Industrial Democracy (1964) and a member of the National Executive Board of the Socialist Party of America (1960–68).
While the above summary of groups that participated in the destruction of the Confederate statue in Durham must, by necessity, be brief, it serves to illustrate that this was no spontaneous demonstration that erupted from a few disenchanted protesters, but was obviously an event organized by veteran hardcore leftists.
The coverage of the events by the Herald-Sun noted that the August 14 rally, “which was the second in Durham in two days, began around 6 p.m. as more than 50 people gathered in front of the new county administration building chanting, sharing their experiences in Charlottesville, Virginia, and demanding that people fight racism in their communities and across the South.”
Obviously, if these protesters in Durham had experiences in Charlottesville, Virginia, to share, they were not local residents, but part of a traveling road show of professional agitators, as is usually the case when leftists get involved in such incidents.
In fact, the Herald-Sun spoke to Alissa Ellis, of the Workers World Party Durham branch, who said, “We need to shun passive, white liberalism” that elevates whites voices over black and brown voices.
The Herald-Sun quoted Eva Panjwani with the Workers World Party Durham as saying, "Tactics are changing, which means that our strategies need to change, our unity needs to escalate and our demands to fight back and resist domestic terror needs to escalate.”
The newspaper reported that as the crowd swelled to more than 100 people, the protesters circled the statue of the soldier holding a muzzle-loading rifle and chanted “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
An obvious question might be, if the Herald-Sun was able to identify the groups at the rally, and all it takes is a simple Wikipedia search to identify some of these groups as hardcore communist, socialist, or leftist, why were the police apparently caught off guard? Why did they not stop them from toppling the statue? The groups simply did what Leftists always do — foment violence and destruction.
In fact, law enforcement officers were on the scene. The Durham Police Department posted a statement online expalining that its “officers monitored the protests that occurred in the city tonight to ensure the protests were conducted in a safe manner and that no infractions occurred within city jurisdiction.”
The statement also said: “The DPD is aware that a Confederate monument was toppled at the old Durham County courthouse. Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers.”
“The Durham County Sheriff’s Office is the agency that has jurisdiction over all county buildings and landmarks. When monitoring such incidents the Sheriff’s Office is the decision-making agency regarding law enforcement response on matters concerning county property.”
One wonders if the police would have responded to an incident on county property involving another form of vandalism, such as throwing rocks through the courthouse widow.
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews also posted an online statement that said, in part:
Before the protest, my staff met with our community partners to discuss how to safely and appropriately respond to the protest. County leaders were aware of the risk of damage to the Confederate statute, as well as, the potential risk of injury to the public and officers should deputies attempt to control the crowd. Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority. As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.
We left a voicemail with the senior public information officer at the sheriff’s department, asking if there was some way the sheriff’s deputies could have prevented the destruction of the statue. We asked if it was fear of escalating the conflict that was responsible for their inaction, or if there was some other explanation. At the time of this writing, we had not received a reply.
Photo: AP Images