Protesters Renew Calls for Change at the Durham Jail—This Time Through Song | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Protesters Renew Calls for Change at the Durham Jail—This Time Through Song

Posted by on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 7:26 AM

click to enlarge 20170925_191922.jpg
Demonstrators rallied at a Durham County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night in what one participant called "a renewed opening salvo" demanding changes at the county jail.

About twenty-five people, including members of Inside-Outside Alliance and Alerta Migratoria, gathered in front of the county government building on Main Street. Earlier in the day, barricades were put up around the base of the now-dismantled Confederate monument that stood in front of the county government building. Before demonstrators showed up, about a dozen deputies gathered around the monument, prompting one of the first arrivals to sarcastically ask the officers if they were holding a rally.

"We're not," a deputy said, to which the demonstrator asked why the officers were around the statue.

"What statue?" the deputy quipped.


The two groups in the past have gathered at the steps of the building, sometimes heading inside to disrupt a commissioners meeting. A Facebook event for Monday's rally made no mention of the Confederate monument, which was toppled by protesters on August 14 during a rally in response to a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville in which one antiracist protester was killed.

Since the August 14 demonstration, Sheriff Mike Andrews has been calling on elected officials to develop guidelines for public assemblies—for example, better enforcement of the permitting process and facility use policies, and "to declare that they expect the laws to be observed."

“By taking these simple, and common sense, measures and working together to uphold these standards, we can ensure that Durham continues to be a vibrant and prosperous community with an activist spirit," he wrote to officials last month. "One where citizens feel both respected and protected in expressing themselves and where citizens feel secure in the community."

Monday's crowd chanted, called Andrews a liar and a racist, and held signs reading, "This jail kills," “Sanctuary for all" and “Video ‘visit’ is Newspeak,” a reference to George Orwell's 1984. Deputies mostly chatted in small groups, some using their cell phones and at least two filming the group. One could be heard punctuating the chants with "uh-huh" and "say what" (facetiously, no doubt).

Some members of the group did go inside, delivering their demands to county commissioners (who were beginning their regular meeting) via an original adaption of Florence Reece's "Which Side Are You On?"

"They say in Durham County/ there are no neutrals here/ the Sheriff is a racist ass/ the people want what's fair!" they sang to the commissioners before joining the group outside and delivering an encore. (Demonstrators said they tried to get on the evening's agenda, to no avail.)


The group called on the board to pass a resolution freezing new funding for the Sheriff's Office until Andrews agrees to halt any collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, maintain in-person visitation at the county jail at is current levels, and to never charge a fee for video visitation, which is being implemented at the jail next month. In addition, they want to see Andrews “testify under oath about his department’s collaboration with ICE, the deaths in the Durham Jail, and his plans for video visitation.”

The agency has been the focus of frequent protests.

Four people have died at the Durham jail since the start of 2015, the most recent being Uniece Fennell, a sixteen-year-old who was found hanged in her cell.

Andrews's statements that he is not eliminating in-person visits have not been enough to assuage demonstrators' mistrust and concern that the detention center would join the 74 percent of facilities that have cut in-person visitation after adopting the technology. Starting October 15, visitors can speak to inmates at the Durham County jail via video kiosks in the lobby.

As far as collaborating with ICE, the Durham County Sheriff's Office has given conflicting statements about its participation in the Secure Communities program, in which jails hold detainees after their local charges have been adjudicated so ICE can pick them up. As the INDY reported in June, the process that begins when someone is booked into the Durham jail sounds an awful lot like Secure Communities.

"Last week we took out someone with an ICE hold," said Sandro Mendoza, a member of the immigrant advocacy group Alerta Migratoria. Statements that the agency does not collaborate with ICE give immigrants a false sense of security, he added.

Mendoza said the commissioners can expect to see demonstrations like the one held Monday until changes are made.

"It's going to to take the rest of the community who think Durham is progressive," he said.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Sarah, Beg to differ. HT

http://www.womennc.org/un-csw-fellowship/2…

WomenNC proudly announces its 2017-18 CSW Fellows!

We …

by Harris Tweed on Women of Color Are "Particularly Burdened" by Gentrification in Durham (News)

Harris Tweed, the Capstone program is a UNC program. Thanks for reading!

https://publicpolicy.unc.edu/academics/exp…

by swillets on Women of Color Are "Particularly Burdened" by Gentrification in Durham (News)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Sarah, Beg to differ. HT

http://www.womennc.org/un-csw-fellowship/2…

WomenNC proudly announces its 2017-18 CSW Fellows!

We …

by Harris Tweed on Women of Color Are "Particularly Burdened" by Gentrification in Durham (News)

Harris Tweed, the Capstone program is a UNC program. Thanks for reading!

https://publicpolicy.unc.edu/academics/exp…

by swillets on Women of Color Are "Particularly Burdened" by Gentrification in Durham (News)

Sounds like hitting the accelerator on gentrification and push out. More hand outs for developers.

by M 1 on The Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive Is Supposed to Help Distressed Areas. See Which Parts of Durham Are Up for It. (News)

Capstone Fellows are part of http://WomenNC.org, a 501c3 non-profit. They do not appear to be UNC Fellowships …

by Harris Tweed on Women of Color Are "Particularly Burdened" by Gentrification in Durham (News)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation