Local News

Four people arrested in Durham outside police headquarters after days of protests

Posted June 25, 2020 5:35 a.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2020 4:50 p.m. EDT

— Four people were arrested Thursday when a group that has camped outside the Durham Police Department for more than a week demanding cuts to police funding blocked the street outside the building.

Deonte Moses, 27, of Chapel Hill, Matthew Helton, 36, of Durham, Sheddrick "Skip" Gibbs, 33, of Durham, and Matthew Butler, 38, of Mount Olive, N.J., were charged with impeding the flow of traffic and resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Gibbs, the leader of the Other America Movement, which has staged the sit-in since early last week, said he feels Thursday demonstration and arrests send a message to police.

"You can arrest us, you can beat us, you can gang up on us. That doesn’t stop us," he said. "At the end of the day, we’re still out here. Black lives still matter."

The tent city outside police headquarters on East Main Street has steadily grown since June 16, following the City Council's approval of Durham's annual budget, which includes funding for police.

Gibbs has said the budget, which included an increase in funding for police, doesn't reflect what the community really needs.

"I want Black lives to be funded," he said. "In the community – economically, socially – we need resources. We need a chance, you know what I’m saying? We need opportunities."

Protesters have painted "Defund Police" in large letters on East Main Street.

Police ended the demonstration and cleared the wooden pallet barricades erected by protesters at around 11 a.m. Thursday.

"The Durham Police Department is respectful of those who wish to exercise their First Amendment Rights and peacefully protest," Police Chief C.J. Davis said in a statement. "However, those privileges must be exercised while ensuring the highest level of public safety is afforded to our entire community. Blocking and impeding the flow of traffic with permanent structures in the public right of way is unacceptable and interferes with the commuting public at large."

Durham officials have said the police budget merely maintains operations and includes no new positions or new programs.

Still, Gibbs said protesters don't plan to stop pushing for more community funding.

"[We'll be here] until the people that we elected and the people that we pay every day, until they prove to us that our lives matter," he said.

The Other America Movement also shut down the Durham Freeway earlier this month, successfully demanding a meeting with Davis and Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.

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