Durham says no tolerance for marchers' violence

jwise@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2014 

— City leaders have had enough of the violence that has broken out during three memorial events for a teenager who died in police custody Nov. 19.

“This city will neither condone nor tolerate any acts of violence and vandalism,” City Manager Tom Bonfield said, reading aloud from a statement issued Thursday by the Durham City Council.

Council members approved the statement after a closed meeting with city attorneys. It includes rules of conduct all marchers must follow in the future. Among them:

•  Demonstrators must get a parade permit and may not march at night.

•  Demonstrators must not wear masks, hoods or other devices to hide their identity.

•  Demonstrators “shall not damage property, commit assaults, participate in disorderly conduct, possess or use pyrotechnics, or possess dangerous weapons … such as rocks, bricks etc.”

• Demonstrators must stay off police parking lots and grassy areas next to police buildings.

The statement also expressed sorrow for the death of Jesus “Chuy” Huerta, and sympathy for his family.

Huerta, 17, died of a gunshot wound police say was self-inflicted, although Huerta was in a police cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back at the time he died.

Marchers protesting his death and demanding “Justice for Chuy” on Nov. 22, Dec. 19 and Jan. 19 threw rocks and firecrackers at police, painted graffiti on buildings, sidewalks and police cars, and broke windows of police cars, Police Headquarters and the Rigsbee Avenue substation. Officers in riot gear used tear gas to disperse marchers in December.

“Some marchers have ignored both city ordinances and state statutes by marching at night without a permit, wearing camouflage masks, damaging both public and private property, and impeding traffic by marching in our streets,” the council statement says.

“These marchers have cost taxpayers over $11,000 in vandalism … and approximately $17,000-$20,000 in overtime police protection,” it continues, plus “the intangible costs incurred because our officers and detectives could not perform their normally assigned functions that day.”

The statement affirms Durham’s “cherished understanding and appreciation of the rights of free speech and assembly” and welcomes “all those who wish to participate in peaceful marches in our city.”

Violence, however, represents “the antithesis of the values which the people of Durham hold dear.”

Wise: 919-641-5895

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