Durham Herald-Sun: Protesters Rally Downtown, Block Highway

But while protestors shouted about a show of solidarity with the residents of Ferguson, there appeared to be no unity between two separate groups who came to downtown to voice their anger over the grand jury’s decision.

One group gathered on the CCB Plaza and used spoken word and other forms of artistic discourse to express themselves.

“We want to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson,” said Eric Jefferson, a graduate student at N.C. Central University, who said he is part of a group that calls itself Black Is. “This is part of life. Everybody is part of the struggle whether they realize it or not.”

The second group marched through downtown several times carrying signs critical of the police and chanting “No justice, no peace” and using profanity aimed at law enforcement officers.

Protestors from the second group blocked the northbound lane of the Durham Freeway by lying in the roadway and one of them is believed to have vandalized the Durham County Jail by spray painting “Burn the prisons” on the building.

Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the northbound lane of the Durham Freeway near the Durham Bulls Athletic Park was blocked for only a few minutes. She said no one was injured or arrested.

Throughout downtown, lights from police cars lit up the night and nearly every corner and intersection appeared to be manned by at least one police officer.

And 10 or more officers dressed in what appeared to be riot gear, stood guard outside the Police Department on West Chapel Hill Street.

Police Headquarters was the scene of an ugly incident last November after marchers protesting the death of Jesus Huerta, a 17-year-old who died in the back of a police cruiser, began to throw road flares, firecrackers and smoke bombs to show their displeasure at the way the case was being handled.

The protests downtown Tuesday night followed a morning news conference by the state NAACP during which its leader, William Barber condemned the grand jury process in Ferguson and said its failure to indict Wilson is an indictment of the nation’s judicial system.

Speaking to reporters at state NAACP headquarters in downtown Durham, Barber said Brown joins an ever-growing list of young, unarmed black men killed by police officers who are not held accountable for their actions.

“We can no longer allow funeral after funeral after funeral and killing after killing after killing to go on and America not render a verdict on herself,” Barber said.

He said such killings and other racially tinged injustices found in the criminal justice system are allowed to take place because the lives of black males have been so devalued that they can be killed or unfairly imprisoned without impunity.

Barber added that too many cops abuse the enormous power that comes with carrying a gun and a badge.

“It’s too much power for a bigot and a trigger happy policeman,” Barber said.

A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separated days of three months and heard more than 70 hours of testimony from 50 witnesses before finding there was no cause to indict Wilson, who is white in the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black.

The verdict, announced by prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch about 8 p.m. Monday, led to widespread rioting and looting in Ferguson and nearby municipalities.

Barber said the NAACP doesn’t condone the rioting and violence.

“We are clear that we disagree with the violence, but there is a deeper violence here,” Barber said. “When you have those who have sworn to protect and serve, and yet they often shoot the very citizens they have been hired to protect and serve, every American should be deeply troubled by that.”