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Spiritual Leaders Call For Community Healing Amidst Lacrosse Rape Probe

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DURHAM, N.C. — Could the Duke University lacrosse rape investigation have a silver lining for the Bull City? The NAACP believes so, calling it an opportunity to learn.

Racism, sexism and classism are all issues that have been brought into the homes of millions of people across the nation as a result of the investigation, in which a 27-year-old black exotic dancer told Durham police that three white lacrosse players raped and beat her at a party in March.

Leaders of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Wednesday that now is not the time to be silent or divided.

"What is happening in Durham begs the need for a serious facing of prevailing realitie, which have deep historical roots and pain," said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP.

Pain is what preachers, reverends and clergy of all creeds in Durham hope to heal with a special forum on how the issues are having an impact on the community.

"You aren't going to change the whole community, but it doesn't do any good to let it fester -- if you want to use that term," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

The forum will be a roundtable discussion open to the news media and anyone with thoughts on the topic. It will be held on May 24 at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham. More information is available by calling (866) 630-3796.

Leaders said a critical topic in the discussion is the role of the media in the investigation. They claim the media has portrayed the alleged victim as an object instead of a woman and that the community's thirst for a scandal has dehumanized the culture.

"We've got to wake up to these issues," said First Presbyterian Church Rev. Joe Harvard. "They are alive and well within our community. This conference will give us the chance to address those issues and begin healing."


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