North Carolina Central University professors want to reward a student for felony activity, according to new reports. Takiyah Thompson, the student who tied a rope around a statue of a Confederate soldier so that it could be toppled from its pedestal, was charged with two felonies, and NCCU may award her a scholarship for the illegal activity.
On Monday, Thompson was arrested in Durham, North Carolina, and, according to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education, professors at NCCU are proud of her.
The incident started as a protest. An angry mob gathered in front of the Old Durham Courthouse to protest the violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. Durham police knew the statue may be a target of some mischief, but had made a decision to stand down and focus on keeping everyone safe.
The protesters proceeded to pull the nearly century-old statue down, using the rope Thompson attached by climbing a ladder.
Thompson was one of the few protesters who was named in the incident, and news of her involvement quickly reached the faculty at NCCU.
The chair of the history department on campus, Jim C. Harper II, was supportive of the “toppling of the monument.”
“I think it’s a healthy thing for students to have a voice and to be leaders in activism,” Harper said, before expressing his intention to join with others to “support Ms. Thompson.”
Allan Cooper, another of Thompson’s professors, reported that his class applauded Thompson’s involvement and the major role she played in the vandalism. Cooper initiated the proposal to give Thompson a scholarship as a reward.
He said that after class, he sent an email to the chair of the department saying Thompson should receive the scholarship for “her ability to use her political-science education to the benefit of the community.”
Yet another professor at NCCU, Scott Holmes, will be legally representing Thompson, as well as other rioters arrested for the crime, on a pro bono basis. Holmes says Thompson is an “inspiration.”
“She gave a brilliant interview, was arrested, came out and had a big smile on her face,” Holmes reportedly said. “She is resilient and smart and knows she’s done something that has awakened the conversation around race.”
Thompson says the statue was a symbol of “white nationalism” and anything that gives them pride needs to “be crushed like they want to crush black people.” Her comments are included in the video below.
Takiyah Thompson, 22, on pulling down a Confederate statue in Durham: “Anything that emboldens those people… needs to be crushed” pic.twitter.com/bu3EjMtOMv
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) August 16, 2017
Yaba Blay, a visiting assistant professor of political science at North Carolina Central University, believes Thompson is being treated especially badly due to her race. When Thompson was arrested, she tweeted: “My student, Takiyah Thompson, was arrested today for climbing a confederate statue and knocking it down. She was arrested today. On campus.”
According to The Chronicle, Blay said Thompson was only one of many protesters tearing down the statue, yet she’d become the face of it.
“It saddens me, it disheartens me, it troubles me that, as a black woman, it feels like a lot of the heat is being placed on a black woman when there were so many people involved,” Blay reportedly said.
As Thompson continues to raise money for her legal defense fund, professors at her school are among some of her donors. Some express concerns for her and vow to advocate in any way, including the scholarship if they can pull it off.
Mr. Cooper said he’s confident the department will meet and vote on whether to give Thompson a scholarship soon.
NCCU interim vice chancellor, Gary Brown, says that while the university condones freedom of expression, it “does not condone student participation in any illegal activities.” Its unknown how that sentiment will affect Thompson’s potential scholarship award.
My student, Takiyah Thompson, was arrested today for climbing a confederate statue and knocking it down. She was arrested today. On campus. pic.twitter.com/NQJiW6higH
— Yaba Blay (@fiyawata) August 15, 2017
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