On Monday, protesters — reacting to the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend — brought a ladder and some rope to North Carolina and tore down a near century old statue of a Confederate soldier. Unsurprisingly, nothing changed. However, the Durham Police Department and the Durham County Sheriff's Office announced that they will be seeking criminal charges for those involved in the destruction of the statue.
Watching people wage violence against their fellow human in the name of protecting or tearing down some arbitrary government artifact is as disheartening as it is frustrating. The future cannot be changed by attempting to erase the past.
A statue holds no magical power to make people racists. If anything, the monuments to former racists serve as reminders that the state can and always will be open to the influence of bigotry — and only the state has the power to enforce racism.