takiyah thompson: “bree newsome created a model of possibility for me”

August 17, 2017
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In the midst of the near-race riot over the weekend in Charlottesville, VA, sparked by white supremacists rallying in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee, renewed calls to bring down Confederate monuments have erupted across the country.

But for North Carolina student Takiyah Thompson, waiting for the state to do the right thing was a losing bet, and so the 22-year-old activist took matters into her own hands by leading a crowd in toppling a statue in Durham just two days after the Charlottesville rally.

“I think what we did was the best way, and not just the best way, but the only way, because the state and the Klan and white supremacists have been collaborating. Right?” Thompson told Democracy Now in an interview after being released on bond following her arrest. She now faces two charges of felony inciting a riot and three misdemeanor charges, including defacing a statue.

“The sheriff, Andrews, and the establishment want to make a political prisoner of me, and they want to make an example of me,” she said. “And they want to scare people, and they want to scare black people, and they want to scare people of color, and they want to scare people who are reclaiming their agency.”

Thompson’s courage in the face of such scare tactics have been an inspiration for many, including Solange Knowles who called Thompson her “hero” on Twitter:

But Thompson has heroes of her own, including Bree Newsome, who climbed up a state capitol flagpole in South Carolina to take down a Confederate flag two years ago. “I was thinking about the history of like black nationalist organizing and black nationalist struggle and black struggle, and I was thinking about my ancestors, and included in that is Bree Newsome,” she said. “I could not have—you know, she created a model of possibility for me. And I was thinking about her. I was thinking about people who believe in people’s power and the power that they have within themselves. I was thinking about people like Kwame Ture. I was thinking about people like Ella Baker, organizers, grassroots people, who give power to the people and let them decide.”

Here’s to both freedom fighters inspiring a new generation of resistance!

*You can donate money to help with Thompson’s bail and legal fees here, and contact the prosecutor and push for the charges against Thompson to be dropped: (919) 808-3010.