District Attorney addresses charges against three activists from 2020 Wilmington protests

Testimony was heard from witnesses and the Wilmington Police Department in relation to the billboard vandalism
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Charges against three community activists arrested in Wilmington in 2020 for injury to property charges and allegedly vandalizing a “Wilmington for Trump” billboard were addressed at the New Hanover County Court in Wilmington Thursday.

Tim Joyner, Joshua Zeisness, and Nicole Nelson (also known as Lily Nicole) were charged with the alleged vandalism but only Joyner and Zeisness appeared in court today; Nelson will stand trial separately.

Testimony was heard from witnesses and the Wilmington Police Department in relation to the billboard vandalism; however, court was adjourned and the trial will continue at a later date.

Joyner was charged with vandalism to a fence in front of City Hall that occurred on July 15, 2020. Honorable Russell Davis found Joyner not guilty of this crime.

Nelson was also charged for vandalism of parking signs belonging to the City of Wilmington in the Thalian Hall parking lot on October 22, 2020. District Court prosecutors attempted to resolve this case prior to trial and Nelson accepted an agreement of a deferred prosecution where the defendant has to meet certain conditions for a period of time.

The conditions of Nelson’s agreement include:

  • 12 hours of community service
  • Restitution to the City of Wilmington ($170.75) and ($1,175) to the NHC Republican Party (who rented the sign)
  • Agreement to not threaten, assault, harass any prosecuting witnesses and to not acquire any new charges in the next 12 months.

If Nelson adheres to these conditions, all charges from both incidents will be dismissed and removed from her record after a period of time.

District Attorney Ben David released a statement regarding the resolution of charges against Nelson that referenced the hundreds of calls and emails from citizens, some who asked for the cases to be dismissed, others who supported their prosecution.

The District Attorney’s Office will always support criminal justice reform and peaceful protest, but will prosecute acts of violence and vandalism when they occur. Property destruction does more to divide than unite us as a community and does nothing to advance us to a place of healing. Today, as every day, we sought to resolve these cases by balancing justice and mercy in a manner that was fair for all involved parties.

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