Statement by Durham People’s Alliance
Durham People’s Alliance stands in fervent opposition to the escalating police response to the public's rightful demand for answers in the death of Jesus Huerta. The violence in our streets must end. We call upon all Durham citizens to commit to address these issues in a spirit of nonviolence and community.
We call upon the Durham Police Department (DPD) to engage more collaboratively and transparently with the community to explain the tragic events of November 19. We also call upon the DPD to focus on controlling the small number of violent demonstrators without resorting to the use of aggressive dispersion tactics on peaceful demonstrators. These actions are instilling fear and distrust across the community and cannot continue. Taking to the streets is a strong tradition in Durham and that right must be protected. Before the next protest, planned on January 19, we request the DPD to make clear how they intend to respond.
We also call upon the demonstrators to help defuse the tensions by renewing their commitment to peaceful protest and to refrain from actions that could endanger any members of the community, including themselves and the police force.
We acknowledge that it will take time to decipher and explain the events of November 19. Although we must all be patient while the State Bureau of Investigation does its job, we support Mayor Bell’s request for more transparency from the DPD while we wait for the SBI report. Meanwhile, Chief Lopez and the DPD must begin working in partnership with the community to restore the diminishing public trust in our police department and its leadership. If that is not forthcoming, we encourage the Mayor, the City Council and the City Manager to take immediate action to restore confidence in our police department and secure the safety and integrity of peaceful protest.
Specifically we ask that the DPD, or an agreed upon intermediary, meet with the Huerta family. The Huertas have lost a child and deserve an opportunity to speak with the police, with a neutral mediator if needed, to resolve outstanding questions. We request the DPD to develop an action plan to resolve outstanding concerns about these and other recent incidents. This plan should include specific actions and milestones by which the DPD will address and communicate to the community about concerns with Huerta’s death, and also the deaths of Jose Ocampo and Derek Walker. The plan should be made available for public comment and input. We also urge the City Council to more fully empower the Civilian Police Review Board, so that over the longer term such incidents are altogether avoided or handled with more care and transparency.
Durham People’s Alliance believes that Durham can be more than a place where people live. It can be a place where people live well. We are committed to a community where all basic needs are met and each individual has the opportunity for a life of accomplishment, dignity and pride. Durham – the people of Durham, its elected leaders, public servants and community leaders - must come together to reach a more just path forward.