DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Protesters set up a roadblock in front of the headquarters of the Durham Police Department Thursday morning and four of them were later arrested and charged.
Plywood boards were lined up on E. Main Street blocking access to the section of the road in front of the police department. Signs reading “Black Lives Matter” were placed on top of some of the boards and a large Black Lives Matter flag was flying in the road.
At the beginning of the protest, at least three protesters were in the street in front of the boards and one was lying down in the middle of the road.
The move was an escalation on the part of protesters who have been camped outside police headquarters for 10 days now.
Protesters told CBS 17 at the scene that they blocked the road this morning because they felt the need to take things up a notch because not enough progress has been made getting answers from police and city council members.
The group is demanding answers as to why the city council unanimously approved a $70 million police budget and why police need that much money.
Durham city leaders said the budget included a 5-percent increase in funding from last year due to inflation.
The protesters had asked the city council to reallocate funds from the police to help the Black and Latino communities in Durham with jobs, food, and housing. When the council did not, the protesters decided to “occupy” an area outside police headquarters.
Durham City Councilman Mark Anthony Middleton said he is in support of “defunding” police and he put out a proposal last week.
The proposal does not include taking any physical money from the police budget. However, he said the plan is to do that further down the line.
“I’m suggesting to those who want to defund the police, that we do this by making them less necessary,” Middleton told CBS 17.
Middleton said he wants to put $2.5 million toward creating a universal basic income for the most vulnerable families in Durham in hopes of bringing crime down in those areas.
He is also asking the city to look at sending mental health responders to some calls rather than armed police officers.
Later in the morning, police ended up taking down the barricades and detained several protesters. According to police, four people were arrested and charged with impending the flow of traffic and resist, delay and obstruct a law enforcement officer:
- Deonte Moses, 27, of Chapel Hill
- Matthew Helton, 36, of Durham
- Sheddrick Gibbs, 33, of Durham
- Matthew Butler, 38, of Mount Olive, New Jersey
The four have been transported to the Durham County Jail.
Durham Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis released a statement regarding the protest:
The Durham Police Department is respectful of those who wish to exercise their First Amendment Rights and peacefully protest. However, those privileges must be exercised while ensuring the highest level of public safety is afforded to our entire community. Blocking and impeding the flow of traffic with permanent structures in the public right of way is unacceptable, and interferes with the commuting public at large.”Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis
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