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Candles flicker remembrance, hope at annual Durham vigil

Posted March 4, 2014

— Each candle at Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church in Durham Tuesday night represented a life cut short by homicide and a family searching for answers.

One of those candles was for Dion Williams. The 17-year-old was shot and killed in July.

“That was the worst thing any mother could ever experience, when they told me my son was dead,” said Jennifer Williams. “You don’t expect to see your son and then the last words you say are ‘I love you’ and then you never see your child again.”

Williams was at a vigil sponsored by The Religious Coalition for a Non-Violent Durham. In its 22nd year, the annual event honors homicide victims from the previous year.

There were 30 people killed in Durham in 2013.

“If you just think about it as a number, then it’s a number,” said Johannes Gumbo, senior pastor at Shepherd’s House. “But I think it must be personal, the way you look at it and say ‘we can do better.’”

The coalition often holds smaller candlelight vigils for homicide victims at or near where they were killed. Some of the victims’ family members, like Effie Steele, become involved with the organization.

Steele’s pregnant daughter was murdered in 2007.

"When we lose one person to violence, we all lose," said Steele, who chairs the organization. "We want to come together and stand in unity and show people and show Durham how it's supposed to be done. How we can love one another."

Williams had a simpler message.

“Please stop the violence,” she said.


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  • Don Dickerson Mar 5, 2014
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    No qualms at all with anything AtALost said....we have to end the multi-tiered society with x-number of codes and rules, cultural and religious activities that are for some fool reason exempted from the laws "everyone else" is supposed to follow, make an out-and-out show of ending corruption from the top down, both from the political and economic scales, stop all this "don't judge me" bull that means people that know right and DO right are at a daily disadvantage at the hands of those who've thrown off the shackles of societal manners, and end poverty as much as possible by controlling our borders, bringing multi-national companies to heel, rebuilding our manufacturing base and facilities, and give this country some pride and meaning again.

  • Betsy Smith Mar 5, 2014
    user avatar

    “Please stop the violence"

    People in power rarely relinquish it willingly. You have to "make them stop the violence" by taking power back in the community. Make anonymous tips when you see suspicious activity and change the culture of "snitches get stitches". Do what affluent neighborhoods do by policing your own area and addressing crime when it starts. Looking the other way and burning candles won't change anything.