The Durham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission voted 9–1 to support the city's "Memorials on City Property" policy with one important exception.
As the INDY reported earlier this week,
the proposed policy would allow the city to remove roadside memorials (ghost bikes, flowers, altars, mementoes) from the right-of-way 30 days after city personnel noticed them—if the items posed a public safety hazard or "interfered with the public enjoyment."
The commission suggested revising the wording to say that the 30-day period for memorial removal "would be triggered only if the City receives a complaint from someone who says that they live or work in Durham."
City Council would have to approve the policy for it to go into effect.
In a written note, Deputy City Manager Bo Ferguson had previously told the commission that the Jesus Huerta memorial erected at Durham Police headquarters—not ghost bikes—prompted the policy.
"I will state (and would ask you to share freely) that the ghost bikes were not what started this conversation or prompted us to develop a policy. Rather, circumstances surrounding the removal of the Jesus Huerta memorial from police headquarters brought to light the fact that we had no consistent or transparent policy about how memorials were treated. Nonetheless, we acknowledged early on that any policy we develop would be applicable to and have an impact on the ghost bikes, as they are one of the more visible and consistent memorials that show up in our rights-of-way. This policy is a result of our effort to address that question."
Last year, according to police and an independent investigation, Huerta fatally shot himself in the back of a Durham Police car
while he was handcuffed. The independent investigation concluded the DPD officer had not adequately frisked Huerta before cuffing him; the officer was disciplined but not fired. No criminal charges were filed against him.
Huerta's death, and several officer-involved shootings, sparked protests, including one in which DPD officers fired tear gas into the crowd
. Huerta supporters erected a memorial to him in the DPD parking lot, where Huerta had died.