DURHAM — At least three people were arrested Friday night when a march by people protesting the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta while in police custody turned destructive at Durham Police headquarters.
An estimated 150 supporters of the Riverside High School student gathered at CCB Plaza downtown, and the crowd swelled to about 200 as they marched toward police headquarters around 8 p.m.
Some of those who joined the march as it progressed wore black hooded sweatshirts, ski masks and bandanas. Several of those wearing the black sweatshirts began yelling at police and throwing firecrackers at officers, the police headquarters and police vehicles.
Some people began to beat on windows of the police building, and a window in a police cruiser was shattered. More than 15 officers came out from the building to help defuse the situation. The crowd yelled at officers as they tried to push the crowd back.
The crowd finally walked back to the plaza after nearly 20 police cruisers responded to the scene.
Huerta died of a gunshot wound while in the back seat of a police cruiser early Tuesday. Police have refused to answer questions while the State Bureau of Investigation looks into Huerta’s death.
“I was very grateful for all the people who came out, but I’m not happy about some of the people’s reactions,” said Huerta’s sister, Evelin Huerta.
“It was going well until we reached headquarters,” she said. “(Supporters) were supposed to come in peace to show that we support the community, not rip up the place.”
The family did not organize the march, which was supposed to call for justice and memorialize Jesus Huerta, she said. She would not comment on who did organize the march.
Now, the family will continue to wait. “Answers. We’re just waiting for answers,” she said.
Before the march, family members and friends gathered and spoke about their memories of the teen.
Carlos Cortes, a 12th-grader at Riverside, was a classmate of Jesus Huerta’s. He described him as joking and fun-loving.
Cortes also said he was one of the last to see Huerta. He and a friend were walking from another friend’s house when they spotted him. They talked for a little while, then went their separate ways.
“We told him, ‘We’ll see you tomorrow man,’ and the next day in third period I heard the news he wasn’t with us anymore,” Cortes said. “I want to support the family on behalf of Riverside, because we want justice done.” Staff writer Andrew Kenney contributed.