Group gathers outside DPAC to protest jail conditions
Posted March 4, 2016
Updated March 5, 2016
Durham County, N.C. — Demonstrators gathered outside the Durham Performing Arts Center Friday night during a showing of “The Lion King” to protest conditions of the Durham County jail.
The group said their goal was to disrupt the performance to shed light on poor living conditions at the Durham County Detention Center, which sits across the street from the DPAC.
Mia Hutchins-Cabibi and Le’Andrew Blakney—both students at Duke University—were two of about 50 people who showed up to protest the show.
Hutchins-Cabib and Blakney were both escorted out of the DPAC during the protest Friday night, but police said no arrests were made.
“We made that statement with DPAC—No more jail deaths, no more jail,” Hutchins-Cababi said.
Outside the performing arts center, other demonstrators from Inside-Outside Alliance blocked S. Mangum Street and marched around the jail calling out to inmates.
Since 2015, there have been three in-custody deaths at the Durham County Detention Facility, which the protestors attributed to medical neglect.
“If we don’t bring attention to it, more people are going to continue to die on the inside,” said Ashley Canady.
"The Durham County Sheriff’s Office will continue to support the right to peaceful assembly. This evening our agency focused on the safety and security of about 40 demonstrators as well as the general public," said Tamara Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Durham County Sheriff's Office. "The Durham County Detention Facility is subject to unscheduled annual inspections to ensure the facility is in compliance with state and federal standards. The facility has yet to fail an inspection, and its staff continues to review policies and procedures to ensure a safe and secure incarceration for all detainees."
One of the deaths was due to a drug overdose, according to a medical examiner, and the other two cases are still under investigation.
"The Sheriff’s Office continues to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the most recent in-custody death," Gibbs said. "The Sheriff’s Office is committed to updating the public about the investigation and the daily operations of the detention facility."