DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham police said Friday they will now “closely monitor the appropriate use” of gas masks and other gear during future protests in the city after concern was expressed by some community members.
The Durham Police Department said in their statement that their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) gas masks during a Nov. 29 “Fight for $15” minimum wage protest in the city could be seen as “an overreaction” by “some members of the public.”
The police department said that the use of such equipment is “routine” and is used “solely to address any potential safety concerns that may occur.”
The minimum wage protest ended with 23 protesters being arrested by police in riot gear. The images quickly spread across social media.
Rev. William Barber II from the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP made an appearance at the Durham protest Tuesday evening.
Barber was later taken into custody and led away in hand-ties at the protest around 7 p.m. after the crowd blocked traffic in Durham.
You can read the Durham Police Department’s full statement below.
Prior to the minimum wage increase protest of November 29, event organizers and the Durham Police Department were in regular communication in an effort to understand and, to the extent reasonably possible, satisfy all parties’ expectations. The organizers clearly indicated that some participants anticipated being arrested in furtherance of their cause. Discussions occurred in advance to facilitate an orderly process for this to occur.
During the event, some officers, as a matter of routine preparation, donned standard personal protective equipment (PPE) gas masks. Such equipment is solely to address any potential safety concerns that may occur; however, the Durham Police Department recognizes that some members of the public may find its use to be an overreaction.
In an effort to be sensitive to the concerns of the community, the Durham Police Department will closely monitor the appropriate use of such equipment, and continue to evaluate its practices when responding to similar events to best address the concerns of the public and the safety of all involved.”