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Church encourages 'peaceful' conversation with Durham PD protesters

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Father Bill McIntyre, with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, said he welcomes the opportunity to talk with people who have protested. Father Bill McIntyre, with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, said he welcomes the opportunity to talk with people who have protested.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Organizers of a vigil honoring a teen killed while in police custody are distancing themselves from the actions of a group arrested during a march that turned violent Sunday night while also welcoming a dialogue with the protesters.

A vigil was held Sunday at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to remember 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, who police say shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of a police car in November.

Prior to the service, a group of about 120 marched, and police say some of them sprayed graffiti and caused damage to police vehicles and a substation on Rigsbee Avenue.

Four adults were arrested on charges of unauthorized entry and assembly in a city owned parking facility and resist, delay and obstruct. Two 13-year-old juveniles were also charged with the same charges but released to their parents.

But police said no arrested were made for the vandalism.

Police said Hector Antonio Gomez, 16, Davonte Marquis Fennell, 20, Lucas Troxler Peters, 18, and Matthew Thomas, 16, all ran from officers when the officers attempted to question him about being in a parking deck without a vehicle.

All four were released on bond and are expected appear in court Feb. 17.

Marcia Owen with the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, the sponsors of Sunday's vigil, said many of the people who marched came to the vigil.

"They were respectful, dignified, sad, shared our sadness -- joined in the lament, and our sorrow," Owen said. "So, I was extremely surprised to hear that there had been violence. There was no indication of that at the vigil."

Father Bill McIntyre, with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, said he welcomes the opportunity to talk with people who have protested.

"Peaceful conversation -- a conversation where people are heard. Their voices need to be heard," McIntyre said. "But not respond with violence, but channel that anger and frustration in ways which promote real change and promote the dignity of all people in our city and in our country."

Huerta's death has been a lightning rod of controversy and debate, with some protestors saying they don't believe reports that Huerta shot himself while handcuffed from behind.

During the last protest in December, police in full riot gear used tear gas to clear out crowds that they claimed became violent.

Organizers of the church vigil said their service was meant as an alternative and peaceful way for people to come together after Huerta's death.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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