Durham police: Protesters threw firecrackers, smoke bombs
Posted November 27, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said Wednesday that a protest on Friday evening over the death of a teen in police custody became unruly when people not associated with the initial gathering began to throw road flares, firecrackers and smoke bombs at Durham Police Headquarters.
About 200 people marched from downtown Durham to the police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street Friday evening, protesting the death of Jesus Huerta, a 17-year-old who died in the back of a police cruiser on Nov. 19.
Huerta's family led the protest through the streets, carrying signs that said "Durham needs a new police chief."
According to Lopez, there were two separate groups of protesters.
"The demonstrators, who did not have the proper permits for such an event on the plaza, were apparently joined by a group of outside protesters who we believe did not share the concerns of the original group of demonstrators," Lopez said in a statement. "We believe the outsiders joined the protest for the sole purpose of causing disruption and damage."
Several windows were damaged at the Durham Police Headquarters, and Lopez said the side window of an unoccupied police cruiser was also damaged. According to investigators, some protesters attempted to throw lit road flares underneath parked vehicles. No injuries were reported.
In his statement released Wednesday, Lopez accused the group of being associated with the anarchist movement.
"Several people in the crowd were wearing masks and multiple layers of clothing which allowed them to slip back into the crowd and remove the masks and top layers of clothing, thus making them harder to identify," he said. "According to our investigators, the behavior, clothing, tactics and tools used by these individuals are consistent with persons involved in the anarchist movement."
Alexander McCrimmon, 19, of Durham, was arrested and charged with failure to disperse on command, holding a meeting/demonstration while wearing a mask or hood and causing a public disturbance. He was released from the Durham County jail after posting a $1,500 bond.
A 14-year-old was also charged with injury to property. His name was not released, and he was released into the custody of his parents, police said.
"We believe that the group of original demonstrators planned to hold a peaceful march, since many in the crowd left when the demonstration became unruly," Lopez said.
Police have not said how Huerta died, but his family members say investigators told them he had a gunshot to the head.
Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Huerta to police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street. In radio communication, Duncan described hearing "shots fired." He jumped from the moving car, and the patrol car rolled into a van and came to rest with Huerta in the back seat.
Lopez said the investigation of Huerta's death, led by the State Bureau of Investigation, precludes him from releasing more details. Duncan has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the SBI review, which is standard procedure.
Anyone with information about the protest should call Durham Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.