DURHAM: Moment of silence held to protest police brutality - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Moment of silence held in Durham to protest police brutality

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A crowd formed outside Durham's old courthouse Thursday evening. A crowd formed outside Durham's old courthouse Thursday evening.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A crowd packed the area outside Durham's old courthouse for a vigil to protest police brutality Thursday night.

Durham took part in the National Moment of Silence for Victims of Police Brutality in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

"Why would you respond to a community with military force, when a community is out crying and mourning and grieving over a child that did not die, but was murdered?" said vigil organizer Darrell Johnson.

Hundreds filled the steps outside the courthouse, some holding signs referencing the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Jesus Huerta in Durham.

“They murdered Jesus Huerta right here. Right here," a speaker at the vigil said.

Many at the vigil are still angry with Durham police over how it handled the Jesus Huerta case. A state investigation found an officer did not follow search procedures when Huerta shot himself in the back of a police cruiser.

Subsequent protests in Durham turned violent and in one case, Durham police released tear gas.

Organizers hope the vigil is the start of something new.

"We keep being told over and over again that we're in the age of the end of racism and it is in these moments that we see the institutional violence explode into material police violence where we see that that's not true," Durham resident Tony Perucci said.

The event is just one of more than 90 across the U.S. in response to the four nights of violence between protestors and police in Ferguson.

Rallies are scheduled for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, near where Brown was shot, and several locations in New York.

The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer.

The intervention, ordered by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about Saturday's fatal shooting of Brown and the subsequent violence that has threatened to tear apart Ferguson, a town that is nearly 70 percent black patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.

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Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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