A statement by the Durham City Council regarding future marches in the Bull City

I received this today from Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel, in response to my query about the statement cited by WRAL and by Diane Catotti. Both Steve and Diane stressed that this statement is based entirely on existing laws & ordinances.

I sent a note to Steve asking for clarification regarding the specific laws they have reference to. In particular, I’m curious as to how they would justify limiting access to the grounds of a public building like the police station.

I’ll post a follow-up if I get any more info.

Full text of the council statement begins here:

February 6, 2014

Durham is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, and
we are noted for our cherished understanding and appreciation of the rights of free speech and assembly to which all citizens are entitled under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Many of our Council members have participated in numerous public protest marches over the years for civil rights, justice and peace. So we welcome all of those who wish to participate in peaceful marches in our city.

We are saddened by the tragic death of Jesus Huerta, a
young and promising 17-year old tenth grader at Riverside High School,
and by the fact that his family has lost a son and a brother. Our prayers
go out to them, and many of our members attended the moving and
poignant service held in Jesus’ memory at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Since the death of Jesus Huerta, three marches have been held during which some protestors have ignored both city ordinances and state statutes by marching at night without a permit, wearing camouflage masks, damaging both public and private property, and impeding traffic by marching in our streets. In addition, during the last three months, these marches have cost taxpayers over $11,000 in vandalism, including window repairs (office and police vehicles) and graffiti removal, and approximately $17,000-$20,000 in overtime police protection. This does not include the intangible costs incurred because our officers and detectives could not perform their normally assigned functions that day.

The Durham community respects the laws of our city and state, and we appreciate our police department’s public safety efforts in an exceedingly difficult and challenging environment.

We embrace the open, constructive and sometimes difficult community discussion now taking place at the Human Relations Commission regarding police practices. We recognize that there is confusion and mistrust among some people concerning the death of Jesus Huerta and others. We welcome all peaceful and lawful expressions regarding any of these matters.

At the same time, we want to be absolutely clear that these issues do not provide any excuse or justification for engaging in violent or unlawful activities which represent the antithesis of the values which the people of Durham hold dear. We expect that such activities, if they occur, will be met by appropriate action by our police department. This City will neither condone nor tolerate any acts of violence or vandalism.

* * *

For clarity to all concerned, this City Council outlines the following
rules of conduct based upon city ordinances and state statutes that all marchers must obey.

If and when our police department becomes aware of the potential for a march, the Council has the expectation that the department will pro-actively communicate about these rules to any potential marchers, if possible. We also expect that any police response to illegal activity at a march will be appropriate and proportionate to the situation. The City Manager and his staff will evaluate the police response and keep the Council informed as necessary.

Rules of conduct:

Anyone wishing to march upon the public streets shall first obtain a parade permit from the City. Such parade permits only allow marching during daylight hours. Demonstrators shall not impede traffic upon the City streets and may not wear masks, hoods or devices which conceal the identity of the wearer, other than masks which are worn in accordance with state law which includes exceptions for seasonal events. Demonstrators shall not damage property, commit assaults, participate in disorderly conduct, possess or use pyrotechnics, or possess dangerous weapons including the possession of any object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury such as rocks, bricks, etc. Demonstrators shall not enter upon Police Department headquarters and substation parking areas or grassy areas immediately adjoining the Police Department headquarters and substation buildings.

A statement by the Durham City Council regarding future marches in the Bull City

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