Approximately 500 or so people converged in front of the Durham Police Precinct for a march in solidarity with Baltimore (organized by the Durham Solidarity Center) in the wake of the murder of 25 year old Freddie Gray. Citizens from all over the Triangle and all walks of life assembled on the sidewalk and eventually overflowed into the street. The tone of the rally was occasionally somber, but more jubilant than anticipated given the news of charges being brought against the 6 police officers responsible for Grey’s death. Many participants held signs commenting on the problems with police brutality. One woman who waved a large white sign with “Justice for Jesus Huerta” scrawled in big black letters volunteered that her marriage to a west Indian black man decades ago was a cause of much racism, said that she was at the rally because she couldn’t bear her children living in a world as racist as her own.
When asked about her motivation for attending the March, “Ann” said:
“I think it’s important for the nation to realize that we have some systemic ills…and do something about it. I just have to be counted, to not be present at a time like this is not acceptable. “
When asked if she felt that Durham had problems similar to Baltimore regarding police brutality she said, “ I think the things that happened in Baltimore and really all over the country can happen anywhere in the country, I guess its probably more likely to happen in a smaller department that has less training opportunities, but I think there’s something that is inherent in the power that we have, in certain sectors of our society that has to be handled with respect and …perspective. And we have a situation where we have young people being recruited to be in a difficult job, being police, but a job that gives them tremendous capacity to help and capacity to hurt…and be at an age where its hard to have the wisdom about using that power. So I feel for them and their situations.”
“ On the other hand, its really important that this society recognize that these people are being killed so easily… for making eye contact are people and that there’s a problem that it continues to happen to black men. Why do we fear black men? That’s a problem in our society. And the publicity of these numbers… This didn’t just start happen with Missouri. This has been happening…it’s just different version of what we have been enduring since we were brought over.”
Speakers and activists with NC Heat, Muslims for Social Justice, and YOI also spoke to other social justice issues tangential to police brutality. With several young organizers of note celebrating the triumph of justice while questioning the slowness of change.