Local News

City leaders looking for new ways to address gun violence in Durham

Posted October 15, 2020 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2020 1:28 p.m. EDT

— Durham police are investigating three shootings that happened in less than 24 hours.

A council member on Thursday highlighted what's being done in the city to keep teens off the streets.

“We have children, and mothers, and fathers and women that live in this community,” said Ashley Canady, a McDougald Terrace resident.

The heavy gun violence near public housing is pushing people out.

“My kids actually got caught in the crossfire, so I had to leave with my kids,” Canady said.

She packed up her kids and left her home at McDougald Terrace after she witnessed a "shoot out" that got too close for comfort Wednesday night.

“This is the third time I almost lost one of my kids. So I’m gone for now,” she added.

That shooting on Dayton Street was the second of three shootings in 24 hours. The first, on Junction Road, left a 19-year-old dead. The third shooting happened Thursday afternoon in the 800 block of Ridgeway Ave. An adult male was shot inside an apartment and taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

“I’m getting choked up right now because I see myself in these children,” said Pierce Freelon, a Durham City Council member.

Freelon said Durham is facing two epidemics right now: coronavirus and gun violence.

“Young Black men. Black boys between the ages of 14, 15 and 19. They are the ones who are suffering the most from this particular gun violence epidemic,” he added.

It’s for that reason, he started a mentorship program years ago called BlackSpace. It’s a creative, digital-maker space that connects young people in hopes of keeping them productive and off the streets.

“Our kids don’t have the same resources that other kids got. You can’t send your kids to summer camp, or to Julliard when you’re living in poverty and you’re working two, three slave jobs to make ends meet,” said Freelon.

He said he believes creating more alternative visions like BlackSpace with community organizations will help deter the violence, make jobs available and address mental health. The only problem is funding.

“I’m calling on the city to put $250,000 up that we’re going to match with philanthropic money so we can put a half-a-million dollar fund to fund programs,” he said.

For those who live in the hardest hit crime areas, they said a lot more needs to be done, but others think this is the right idea to help move the community forward.

“We have to figure out what’s going on with this mental. A lot of it is mental because these people are stuck in the house,” added Canady.

Freelon plans to propose funding for his new program at the next city council meeting Monday. The idea is to also have more people from the community more involved in the city’s decision-making.

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