Local News

Violence Continues to Erode Racial Peace in Durham

Posted July 28, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Problems continue to erupt in Durham between Blacks and Hispanics. While efforts are underway to establish better relations between the two groups, acts of violence continue to erode the fragile peace.

Hispanic men getting lost in the music to forget the sweltering summer heat. They're part of a growing number of Spanish-speaking people moving into predominantly black neighborhoods. The change has not always been as pleasant as a song.

"I think there needs to be a stronger emphasis on learning the English language so they could communicate better, so there would be less of a fear," said Julian Hall, Durham resident.

To bridge the language and cultural barriers, Durham has presented a series of conferences. Saturday's meeting at Hayti Center promoted racial unity.

Sadly, a short time after that meeting for unity and understanding, a Hispanic man was shot as he sat on his porch. Police say five black teenagers targeted the man for robbery.

Many Hispanics have become easy prey for criminals. Publishers of the Latino newspaper, "La Conexion" say Latinos are targeted because many criminals believe the the myth that Hispanics always carry a lot of cash.

Truth is, most Hispanics are putting their cash into banks. But while banking may curb crime more is need to develop better relations between Blacks and Hispanics.

"Leadership, I really believe the church, the African American Church, the Baptist church, can play a big, big role," said Angel Robles, co-founder of "La Conexion".

"At the same time we owe them the duty to make sure that they can live in their houses safely, not be robbed, not be shot," said Mike Leary, publisher, "La Conexion".

Durham Police plan to add two bilingual officers to the department. They will help improve communications between Blacks and Hispanics. Durham clergy members are also working on ways to improve relations between the groups through the church.