“In assigning felony liability, we want to distinguish people who are merely damaging property and those who are willing to hurt people,” Kennedy said. “It’s hard to find a riot here. You find vandalism, you can find disorderly conduct, but I don’t think you can find a riot when only one side shows up and the side that does show up doesn’t show intent to injure any person.”
Riot aside, there is the matter of what the statue is worth. A 2015 state law prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments, but the country is trying to decide what legal obligations it has now. Does it have to reinstall the destroyed statue? Or does it have to replace it? At the time of its erection, the statue seems to have cost about $5,000, but that included its granite plinth. The protest demonstrated the cheapness of its construction, too: Though it appeared to be bronze, the statue crumpled, probably irreparably in the fall, and turned out to be made of sheet metal that was merely coated in bronze. Assessing the present-day value of the statue is also challenging. In some cases around the country, local officials are seeking to remove Confederate monuments on the basis that the are in fact a liability because they create public-safety issues. Echols has asked the county to determine what the statue is worth as part of his investigation.