Durham County commissioners may be called to testify Monday as eight people accused of dismantling a Confederate monument in front of a county building last summer appear in court.
Attorney Scott Holmes, who is representing the defendants, requested the subpoenas, which were hand-delivered to each of the five commissioners by attorney Tom Cadwallader in the board’s chambers just before their regular meeting Monday night.
“You are being called to testify as to the value and meaning of the county property at dispute in this case,” each document reads. Holmes declined to comment.
The commissioners were inside the county building holding a regular meeting on the evening of August 14 when a crowd rallying in response to a violent white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend before encircled the figure of a Confederate soldier and pulled it to the ground using a tow strap attached to a late-model limousine.
Sheriff’s deputies, some filming, looked on as protesters kicked the crumpled statue and marched down Main Street. Officers in riot gear could be seen inside the lobby of the county building.
Twelve people were charged with misdemeanor charges for property damage and inciting a riot, which is a felony. All charges against three of those people have been dropped, and a fourth received a deferred dismissal deal. Last month, Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said his office would not be pursuing felony charges against the eight people still facing charges.
At Echols’s request, the Board of Commissioners provided several valuations of the damaged monument, the base of which still stands in front of the county building. Based on what the county paid to erect the statue in 1923, it would cost $71,000 in 2017 dollars. Informal bids to replace the statue came in at about $28,000. But, the board said in a letter to Echols, the statue has “no moral value for our community.”
The value of the monument could have implications on Monday; each defendant is charged with injury to personal property in excess of $200. A committee is being set up to decide what to do with the base of the monument. A state law prohibits such monuments from being permanently removed.
According to the documents, the commissioners may choose to be placed on standby and get a phone call if they are needed in court.
The state has served subpoenas to seven employees of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office as well as one employee of ODS Solutions, which is contracted to provide security at county buildings, and to Ed Miller, the county’s security manager.