Durham protesters blame driver, police for tense incident
DURHAM - The driver of a pickup truck who pushed his way through a crowd of May Day protesters in downtown Durham on Monday will not be cited, police said Tuesday.
And neither will the protesters, although they were not permitted to be in the street.
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There were some tense moments Monday, as protesters -- who were blocking the road to traffic outside the Durham County Jail without a permit - attempted to stop the truck from driving down South Mangum Street. Despite not having a permit to protest, organizers are blaming the driver - and asking why police did not get involved -- for causing a scene. And they say they will continue to protest without asking for a permit, telling ABC11 that they will block more streets even with the threat of being hit by traffic or run over.
"We're going to continue to show resistance because we have no choice," D'Atra Jackson, one of the protest organizers said. "We're showing symbolically what we're up against." Jackson is with Durham Beyond Policing, a group that says it believes in disinvesting in police, but putting more resources in community. "It was purposefully done so (the pickup driver) could break through us and divide us," Jackson said. "And it was also some form of entertainment not giving any care to the human beings who were in the street." Stay on top of breaking news with the ABC11 News App Though Jackson said her group purposefully chose not to seek a permit to protest legally, she questioned why police didn't intervene when the incident with the truck happened. "They never came over to anybody to see if we were OK," Jackson said. "They never tried to take down the license plate number, nor did they try to go to the street and stop the driver." The driver's identity is not known. Durham Police say they were nearby watching -- allowing the demonstrators to protest peacefully. No one was hurt. Meanwhile, a North Carolina Senate committee is reviewing a proposed law that would make drivers immune from civil liability if a protester is hit while disrupting traffic. It's a concern for Jackson, who aims to call attention to their issues through resistance and blocking streets. "The laws are subjective laws. They are not created for actual morals. Laws are created for what's convenient," Jackson explained. The proposed law is not giving drivers a license to hit protesters. Motorists could face criminal charges if that happens.