Note from Tom
Durham Shows Power in Peaceful Protest But Much More Work Remains
As we watch and witness protests and demonstrations across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd, including in the streets of Durham, understandably anger, outrage, and passion are running high. In Durham, the community and police have shown that protests can take place with peace and respect. Over several days, hundreds of people from every race, ethnicity, age, and background have come together in solidarity, to speak out, converse, and even sing about racial injustice at the hands of law enforcement and institutions.
I commend the work of the Durham Police Department and the leadership of Chief C.J. Davis for taking a non-confrontational approach and ensuring the safety of the protesters – helping to block streets and assuring space to speak and move safely and freely. Chief Davis has worked hard to transform the police department, build relationships, and earn the trust of the community, and I believe recent events show we are on the right path.
I also thank the protest participants and organizers for showing respect for our city – many thanked our police officers for their work and were seen picking up trash and signs, and even poured water on graffiti to try to remove it. There is a pride that comes with being a Durhamite, and it has definitely been on display through these actions.
Our country and our community have a lot to face and change as a result of 400 years of institutional racism, and this is the time when leaders need to listen. This afternoon, Chief Davis and Sheriff Birkhead attended a forum to discuss the recent events and law enforcement relationships with community members. Many other institutions and organizations are planning similar call-to-action meetings and events. The City is committed to hearing the concerns of the community, and ensuring Durham is a city that provides safety and opportunity for everyone to express their thoughts and protest.
George Floyd will be memorialized at a service in Eastern North Carolina tomorrow and I hope and pray that as a community we will find urgency, to not only peacefully protest, but use the experiences of this past week to springboard real change to tear down supremacy and institutional racism that has so negatively impacted people of color for far, far too long.