Civil Disobedience (and Swearing!): A May Day March on Durham City Hall | Triangulator | Indy Week

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Civil Disobedience (and Swearing!): A May Day March on Durham City Hall

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Dovie Joyner and her three sons marched down Main Street Monday evening, dancing and shouting, "Whose streets? Our streets!"

Joyner, who works as a patient assistant, came out to the International Workers Day March as a member of the Domestic Workers Alliance. Her sons had boxing lessons, but they chose to march instead. Stopping traffic and keeping time with a drum beat, the boys (Jahbrile, six; Jahien, eight; and Jahsway, ten) agreed that marching is cooler for boxing. For starters, you're allowed to yell "shit"—as in, "Shut shit down!"—which, if you're a kid, is as much of a rush as civil disobedience. 

The family was among about eighty people gathered in front of the under-construction police department at the corner of Main and Elizabeth streets. The demonstrators protested against police brutality, police checkpoints, immigration enforcement, and the growth of the Durham Police Department's budget, including the new police headquarters, which will cost about $71 million. They also stood against discrimination, unlivable wages, the state's anti-union policies, and funding cuts for education, health care, and public services.

The group then marched to the Durham County Detention Center, and from there to City Hall, where a Durham City Council meeting was taking place. Their reputation preceded them, as city staffers wondered aloud whether the group would show and how many there would be.

As soon as Mayor Bill Bell opened the meeting, demonstrators lined up and began reading their platform. 

Later, after the protesters left, police chief C.J. Davis gave her first quarterly report of 2017. She said officers are responding faster to emergency calls, more than 150 body cameras have been deployed citywide, and the total traffic stops in the city are down from 20,780 in 2015 to 14,785 last year. Black drivers were searched by police at a rate about three times higher than white drivers, although searches of black drivers were down by about 44 percent compared to 2015.

Davis said she "had no opinion" on the demonstrators' demands. "I was trying to figure out what the message was," she told reporters.

This article appeared in print with the headline "+CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (AND SWEARING!)"


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