Nine charged in Southpoint demonstration
Posted December 11, 2014
Durham, N.C. — Police on Thursday identified the nine people arrested during a Wednesday night demonstration at The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham.
Dozens of people staged a "die-in" inside the Nordstrom store before marching through the mall and out onto Fayetteville Road, where they blocked traffic between Herndon Road and Renaissance Parkway for about 40 minutes.
The demonstration was the latest reaction to grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., not to indict white police officers in separate incidents involving the deaths of two black men.
The following people were charged with failure to disperse, impeding traffic and resisting, delaying or obstructing officers: John Lapp of Durham, Kevin Atkins of Durham and Adam Pyburn of Durham.
The following people were charged with failure to disperse and impeding traffic: Fabian Hall of Durham, Tara Schmitt of Durham, Shayla Freels of Garner and Robert Foote of Apex. Hall also was served with two outstanding warrants on failure to appear in court charges.
Robert Stephens of Durham was charged with failure to disperse, impeding traffic and inciting a riot. DeLeon Gray was charged with impeding traffic, damage to property and resisting, delaying or obstructing officers.
All nine have been released on bond.
Police also arrested a truck driver Wednesday night, saying he tried to drive through the line of protesters on Fayetteville Road. A magistrate later dismissed charges against him, police said, because there was no intent to strike or injure the pedestrians.
About 100 people were involved in the demonstration, police said. Two people suffered minor injuries, and a stun gun was recovered from one of the protesters, police said.
Several demonstrations have taken place in Durham and Raleigh over the Missouri and New York cases, including hundreds of people marching through downtown Durham and blocking the Durham Freeway last Friday night. Thirty-one people were arrested in that protest.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell said Thursday that he's not surprised by the protests.
"Durham is a very activist community. It has a long history of civil protest," Bell said. "If it's going to be done anywhere, I expect it's going to be done here in Durham."
But he said the protesters can go too far, such as when they wander into traffic, endangering themselves and others.
"I think they're probably losing some people who might otherwise be more sensitive to what they're saying," he said. "Some of the tactics that they're using are sort of counterproductive to the message."
Activist Lamont Lilly, who participated in last Friday's demonstration, said more protests will occur across the Triangle, and they might include blocking traffic or storming a shopping mall.
"If disrupting the flow of profit margins, if that raised the level of consciousness, then so be it," Lilly said via social media. "If blocking traffic raises consciousness and makes people more sensitive, then that's what we have to do."
Bell said he's satisfied with how Durham police have responded to the demonstrations, saying officers have used restraint, but he's calling for an internal review.