FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2014
DURHAM - The NC NAACP, along with the Durham Branch of the NAACP, Spirithouse, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and others will hold a news conference on Friday, January 10th at 3:00 p.m. The NC NAACP is concerned about police actions and willful police inaction including the failure to protect at risk persons from specific known dangers. Additionally, they are concerned about recent police encounters which have resulted in the injury, loss of freedom, or death of several Black and Latino Durham residents.
The news conference follows the public release of the Durham Police Internal Affairs report regarding the death of Jesús Huerta, a 17-year-old who died of a gunshot wound to the head while in the back seat of a police cruiser with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
Mr. Huerta was the third young man of color to die during an encounter with the Durham Police within three and a half month in 2013. Derek Walker and José Adan Cruz Ocampo were shot by the Durham Police in the summer of 2013. Those investigations are still pending.
Additionally, there are troubling statistics of widespread racial disparities in traffic stops, searches, and incarceration rates in Durham. 82% of people searched during a traffic stop are African American, even though they comprise just 41% of Durham's population. Since October 2013, the Durham Human Relations Commission has been examining claims of racial profiling and police misconduct and has planned a series of public listening sessions scheduled for January 14, 21, 28 and February 4.
"The NC NAACP believes that all citizens must be treated fairly, equally, and with respect," said North Carolina NAACP Legal Redress Committee Chair Irv Joyner. "Transparency and accountability are essential to ensuring this goal is achieved, especially for the Huerta family and their community, but also on an on-going basis."