DURHAM — Durham's homicide rate is so disturbing to some citizens that they are ready to fight back.
The pastor of Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church put out the call --especially to African-American men -- to attend Monday night's anti-violence rally; close to 100 of them heeded the call.
Residents were told the crime rate in Durham is declining, but the homicide rate is not.
Durham has seen 17 murders so far this year; that is four more than all of last year.
The room full of students, professionals and ex-convicts met to turn their anxiety into action.
Durwood Koonce has been on both sides of the social issue.
"You can go within the belly of the beast and come out," he says. "As of right now I work a full-time job, part-time real estate, and I have my own janitorial company," he says.
Koonce and all of the men in the room believe teaching by example is the best way to reach young men at risk.
They also understand the police department cannot do it alone.
"If you look at the pattern of killings that have occurred in this community, all neighborhoods were impacted by what happened," says Durham Mayor Pro Tem Howard Clement III.
The pastor says he focused on African-American men because much of the crime has been black on black.
The men who attended the hours-long meeting were enthusiastic and energized. They formed sub-committees on education and economic development and plan to continue their work.