Vigil honors, remembers Huerta

Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:47 PM

 “We didn’t ask to go through this,” said Evelyn Huerta. “We just wanted him to be back. And now we’re grieving him.”

The Huerta family gathered Sunday night at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for a vigil to honor the life and memory of Jesus Huerta. Through tears, Huerta’s sister spoke on behalf of the family asking the public to respect the memory of her brother.

Huerta, 17, was found dead in November while handcuffed in the backseat of a Durham PD police cruiser from what investigators said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Huerta was picked up by officers after his family reported him missing.

“I beg of you, let his memory rest in peace,” she said. “Stop disrespecting him. Enough. Enough is enough. We all love him. Chuy was a loving son. He would make us happy when we were sad. Chuy was a shining star. He was a shining star that would light up our day.”

Before the vigil, separate protestors staged a march that began near Immaculate Conception and circuitously headed toward police headquarters. Six of those protesters were arrested.

About 200 people were on hand at Immaculate Conception to hear Huerta’s plea and show support for the family. Sharing fond memories of her brother, Huerta said that her brother was a loving son who cared about others.

“Someone tell us, who’s going to give that joy back to us,” she said. “Who’s going to give that strength back to us?”

The vigil was organized by several groups including Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the Huerta Family, the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, CAN, El Centro Hispano and Durham Congregations in Action.

Father Will McIntyre of Immaculate Conception said that the vigil was a time to remember Huerta “as a child of God and to remind ourselves and support ourselves in this time of grief and sadness.”

Sometimes we think of the person as one dimensional, as just a headline, but to the family, he is not a headline,” McIntyre said. “He is not a statistic. He is someone who is loved and missed dearly.

“There is sadness, hurt and even anger,” said McIntyre. “But for people of faith, life does not end even in death or when taken so young and so tragically. He is loved by his family and those who knew him and those who don’t know him but feel a connection because of when someone dies tragically.”

Among those in attendance were Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez Sr., Durham City Council Members Don Moffitt, Eddie Davis and Steve Schewel, Durham County Commissioner Brenda Howerton and State Sen. Mike Woodard.

The Rev. Anne E. Hodges-Copple of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church paralleled the life and death of Huerta with that of Jesus Christ, noting several similarities.

“I remember another Jesus. A Jesus who died a violent death,” she said. “I remember another Jesus whose family gathered at a tragic spot when everything seemed lost and dark and wrong.

“Then we remember that with God all things are possible and we remember that we will go in faith and in hope and in love,” said Hodges-Copple. “And we will remember Jesus as we seek truth, as we seek justice and as we seek mercy.”