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Activists call on DA to drop charges against three Wilmington protest organizers

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Several community groups gathered Monday at the steps of the old courthouse to call for charges to be dropped for three Wilmington activists.

Tim Joyner, Lily Nicole and Joshua Zieseniss all face injury to property charges for vandalizing a Trump billboard in October. All three are members of the Lowercase Leaders, a group formed last spring in the wake of the George Floyd protests in Wilmington.

Representatives from groups like the Campaign to End Cash Bail, Working Films and Showing up for Racial Justice gathered at the courthouse holding signs and chanting to drop the charges against the three organizers.

“Martin Luther King at his time was told sit down, simmer down and wait. Now everyone likes to quote him for their convenience, we can’t wait until people die to respect them. We can’t wait until people die, after living a life of struggle, to say that what they did mattered. Lily, Josh and Tim are alive right now, they’re young right now, they have ideas and brilliance right now, and they deserve to be free right now,” said one of the speakers at the event, Ashley Daniels.

The coalition says they organizers have been unfairly targeted, and moving forward with the charges against the three does nothing to move the community forward and is not a good use of the county’s resources or time.

“They build community gardens, they provided food for folks, they led black liberation efforts, they made free store. Lily helped create the Sokoto House, so building black-led spaces in a space that doesn’t have many of those was really important, and I think the most important thing that we can note is that they challenge white supremacy. They challenge spaces that caused harm, they challenge structures that caused harm — the two things that we haven’t seen happen in Wilmington,” said speaker Nada Merghani.

The broad-based coalition is reaching out to churches, social groups and other community organizations to ask District Attorney Ben David every day in the month of May to drop the charges, until the trial is held on May 27.

The District Attorney’s Office issued the following statement Monday:

“Our office has received dozens of calls and emails regarding the Injury to Real Property and Injury to Personal Property charges against Timothy Joyner, Nicole Nelson, and Joshua Zieseniss. Most of the charges stem from an October 8, 2020 incident; Joyner also has one case set for next week related to a July 15 incident. Some citizens are asking for the cases to be dismissed, while others are asking for the prosecution to proceed.

“While we are not permitted to comment on the facts or evidence of a pending case, I can share that the facts and merits of each case are carefully evaluated by our office. We communicate with attorneys working on behalf of defendants (or with defendants themselves in instances of self-representation) to reach a just resolution in these matters that reflects the charge at hand and the conduct for the incident that is before the court on that day. We hope to achieve a resolution to these cases in court next week.”

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