Two charged after activists chain themselves to Durham jail

May 10, 2019

A group of activists called for justice reform Thursday in a visual display in downtown Durham.

A couple people chained and bound themselves to the gate at the Durham County Detention Center to make their point that bail and pre-trial detention separate families.

“We call for the city and county of Durham to stop caging Black mothers and caregivers before Mother’s Day and end money bail and pre-trial detention,” they wrote in a press release about the event.

The protestors had been given permission to gather in the courtyard of the detention center, but they moved to the gated entrance of the sally port on Pettigrew Street, authorities said.

The detention center was locked down, and Pettigrew Street was closed between Roxboro and Magnum streets, authorities said.

About two dozen onlookers gathered to watch.

The protesters were repeatedly asked to leave the area. They finally unchained themselves at about 8 p.m. and left the area along with others, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Kayla ONeill Hartsfield, 25, of Chapel Hill Street in Durham, and Serena Elysa Sebring Wadlington, 41, of Trinity Avenue in Durham, were charged Friday with public disturbance, second-degree trespass and failure to disperse. They were released on $2,000 unsecured bonds.

“The Durham County Sheriff’s Office respects every citizen’s right to free speech provided by the First Amendment,” Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said in a statement. “While we honor this fundamental constitutional right, in this specific incident, laws were broken, leading to charges being filed.”