Group hopes mothers can curb Durham crime
Posted August 2, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Seventeen people have been killed in Durham this year, compared with 13 through the first seven months of 2012.
Most of the victims – and most of the people charged with their deaths – are young and black. That fact saddens Durham officials, who have worked for years to put programs in place and increase police patrols to help curb crime.
"It's horrendous, it's sad and depressing," City Councilman Eugene Brown said.
"The police can't solve the problem alone," he said. "There needs to be some good organizing at the grassroots level to counter this."
District Judge Elaine Bushfan, who has heard criminal cases for 20 years, decided last year to become more involved outside her courtroom.
"We can stop some of the things that are happening, especially with our young African-American males," said Bushfan, who pulled together a group of friends to target the mothers of young, black men in Durham.
"We wanted to go to other women and begin to instill in them a sense of community and who they are," she said. "The men will follow."
The group, which calls itself "The Godmothers," didn't gain traction at first. No one showed up to Hoover Road neighborhood meetings. Eventually, women started coming around, and the group is now helping them plan activities for the National Night Out anti-crime effort.
"We can work on crime prevention and are working on that, but what we really need to be working on is building relationships, building opportunities," said Wendy Clark, a member of The Godmothers.