DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Hundreds are blocking downtown Durham streets as part of a “Black Lives Matter” protest Thursday evening.
Around 6:30 p.m., the group moved to the intersection of Duke and Chapel Hill streets near the Durham Police Department headquarters.
The group is taking part in what they said is a national day of action in response to police violence.
“This moment resonates widely across the country and right here in Durham we are feeling it. We know that the police in Durham have a particular history of violence, of not respecting the community and over criminalizing black people in particular,” said Serena Sebring, an organizer with Southerners On New Ground.
They mentioned the shooting deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Akiel Denkins in Raleigh.
“Police officers are trained to shoot to kill. And they’ve done it here in Durham,” said organizer Nia Wilson.
The group demands the Durham City Council to reverse its decision to build a new $71 million police headquarters.
“We know cops don’t keep our people safe. We know that what people need to actually be safe is meaningful community investment in the form of jobs, healthcare, and housing,” said Sebring.
The group said money set aside for Durham police in the city’s budget needs to be moved elsewhere to help health care, jobs programs, youth recreational facilities and housing.
Protesters were still blocking the intersection at 10 p.m. Thursday.
A similiar, but much smaller, protest was held in rally.
In response to the rally, Durham police released the following statement.
“The Durham Police Department respects and supports the privileges of individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights through peaceful protests. We will continue to monitor these gatherings to ensure the safety and welfare of the participants and others that may be impacted.”