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Bell focuses on poverty, avoids Huerta in Durham state of city address

Posted February 3, 2014

— Durham Mayor Bill Bell’s State of the City address Monday night focused on tackling poverty in the Bull City, which he said goes hand-in-hand with reducing crime, and building trust between government and communities.

But that trust has been compromised recently with clashes between residents and police over the death of Jesus Huerta, none of which were highlighted in his speech.

“It is still under investigation, and I don’t want to do anything to prejudice that investigation, but Durham is a lot bigger than that,” Bell said regarding why he didn't mention the case during his address. “It’s a lot bigger than that. I’m not demeaning what has happened in that respect. I certainly feel for the loss of the young man and his family.”

Jesus "Chuy" Huerta, 17, died Nov. 19 shortly after police picked him up on an outstanding trespassing charge. Authorities said he shot himself in the face while sitting in the back of a patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Huerta's family has repeatedly questioned the official explanation of the teen's death, calling for a federal investigation of potential civil rights violations by the Durham Police Department.

The State Bureau of Investigation looked into Huerta's death and turned over its findings to the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, which determined there was no probable cause to pursue criminal charges.

Recent protests over the case have led to arrests and damage to police vehicles. The Huerta family has said vigils will be held every month until "justice is served."

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez, who did not take questions after Bell's address, echoed the mayor's focus on poverty.

“We need to address the issue of poverty, which is one of the root causes of a lot of the negative things that happen in the City of Durham,” he said. “And I think if we follow his lead and we go down that road, I think where we’re going to go is to a better place here in the City of Durham. Thank you.”


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  • yankee1 Feb 4, 2014

    He's been mayor so long because the vast majority of citizens are happy with him. ..

    Hmm! So majority of Durham's citizens are willing to deal with continued poverty, high crime, bad schools and endless welfare programs so they can go to DPAC, watch the Bulls and eat $2 donuts at Monut's? But I thought liberals, and Durham certainly is full of them, were all concerned about the poor and downtrodden. I guess that's only as long as they aren't among them.

  • A person Feb 4, 2014

    What ever the kid's name was,, he is just a minor event that will be forgotten about before I get done typing this post

  • Super Hans Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    LOL! Good one.

  • renaissancemon Feb 4, 2014

    City of Durham has to borrow money to pay for basic services like road maintenance. That's poverty.

  • yankee1 Feb 4, 2014

    keep those downtown improvements going. Maybe that'll hide the poverty, the crime and the failing schools. But to each his own.

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 4, 2014

    "You should visit and see how much Durham has grown and improved. It's constantly improving."

    True changes down town are very apparent but the changes have taking place through gentrification which has it's own cost such as displacing crime to other parts of a city with out actually preventing it.

  • OleNCNative Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    He's been mayor so long because the vast majority of citizens are happy with him. You should visit and see how much Durham has grown and improved. It's constantly improving.

  • caronia49 Feb 4, 2014

    Bell is a typical Democrat politician, elect me and I will give you everything you want and need...(Ha,, Ha) How long has Bell been Mayor of Durham? Years, and look at the news everyday, and you will see that poverty, and crime are always high in Durham...Do not make any promises Mayor, you will just continue to be a failure in you actions and promises...

  • scubagirl2 Feb 4, 2014

    ah hans your bias is showing once again...IF by Chuey you mean Huerta, justice HAS been served. The boy killed himself, no one else pulled that trigger so not sure what you would have anyone do.....

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 4, 2014

    We're just lucky this kid didn't hurt anyone while he was breaking in to homes while apparently armed with a hand gun.