Local News

Film Documents Gang Violence In Bull City

Posted February 12, 2004 10:00 a.m. EST

— A documentary about Durham is getting the attention of city leaders. "Welcome To Durham" exposes the Bull City's underground world of gangs.

The film was screened Wednesday night for a select audience that included several Durham police officers and Chief Steve Chalmers.

"We are certainly committed to addressing the gang issue here in the City of Durham. Anything that is being presented that can give us a better understanding from a law enforcement perspective from a preventive perspective, we are interested in seeing that," Chalmers said.

The film's producers said they want to call attention to Durham's gang problem, but some said the film could fuel stereotypes about Durham, damaging the city's image.

"Information helps if it's in perspective," said Reyn Bowman of the Durham Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "If it's not in perspective, it hurts."

Bowman said if the film makes Durham appear like a war zone, it will do more harm than good.

"It will affect newcomers, it will affect site selection committees for corporations, it will affect students coming to Duke, it will affect visitors -- huge consequences," he said.

"Yes, Durham is an excellent place to live. But these guys need opportuniues , these guys need other avenues to direct their way fo life," director Teddy Jacobs said.

Chalmers takes issue with one of the claims on the film's Web site, which states Durham's violent crime rate has grown higher than any city in the United States.

The police chief said Durham's violent crime rate is average compared to other cities its size.

The film's producers plan to release the documentary to the public this summer.