Over 100 people marched to the steps of the Durham Police Department, Nov. 23, to demand justice for 34-year-old Frank “Scooter Bug” Clark. Clark, an African American, was shot multiple times by Durham police on the afternoon of Nov. 22 in the McDougald Terrace public housing project. Protesters blocked the streets in front of the police department for over an hour while speakers railed against the police shooting.
Organizers and speakers from Durham Beyond Policing, FADE, All of Us or None, and BYP100 were present at the protest, along with many friends and family members of Clark and residents of McDougald Terrace. The rally was emotional as family and friends wept and mourned the loss of Clark, a father of four young girls. Many expressed anger that the Black community continues to be the target of police violence.
Police allege that Clark made a sudden movement towards his waistband as he was being searched, and then a shot was heard, prompting officers to open fire. Police also say they found a gun nearby. But this account is being disputed by witnesses and family members. Clark’s family and organizers are in the process of collecting statements and testimony about the officers involved in the killing.
Two of the officers involved in the shooting have a history of violent conduct. According to the News & Observer, in 2006 officer Charles Barkley used a flashlight to break up a fight between two girls outside Jordan High School, which resulted in a fractured skull for one of the girls. Also according to the News & Observer, in 2016, officer Southerland was found to have used excessive force by tasering a teenage boy.
In a post on Durham Beyond Policing’s Facebook page, Clark’s family issued a statement which reads in part:
“We want the 3 police officers involved in yesterday’s murder to be fired and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We are asking the community to avoid speaking to the media about Scooter Bug or his murder. Instead we ask that you please share, with the media, your stories about Office Charles Barkley’s repeated harassment of people in our community.”
The statement continues: “The story of what happened to Scooter Bug should be told by someone other than the police or any other state agency. We are therefore seeking an independent autopsy that will tell a complete story of yesterday’s events. [...] We hold the city of Durham responsible for Scooter’s murder. Our loved one was killed by a police officer acting on behalf of the city.”
In a city that is rapidly gentrifying, some protesters also noted the vast and growing inequality in the city and the lack of opportunities and jobs for those who live in predominantly Black neighborhoods. The rally ended with protesters vowing to continue to demand justice for Clark and for the Black community as a whole in the struggle against police violence.