Local News

Racial Harmony a Common Cause in Durham

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DURHAM — The roundup is over for a group of men who police say terrorizedmembers of Durham's Spanish-speaking community.Five young men are behind bars, facingmore than 100 charges.

While these arrests have residents breathing a little easier, there isstill a lot to be done to make the Hispanic community feel safe.WRAL's Kelly Wright says people he's talked to say they're hoping a newattitude in Durham will help.

Some city leaders say people in the Bull City have two common enemies:ignorance and crime.

The police are largely responsible for dealing with crime, and withseveral arrests in the Hispanic cases, it appears they are getting thejob done.But conquering ignorance will require a united effort from all citizens.

Police have vigorously pursued African American criminals that have preyedon the Hispanic community. But members of El Centro Hispaño are quick toannounce that the Hispanic/Latino community holds no grudge againstAfrican Americans.Gabriel Alonso/El Centro Hispaño"When we look at African Americans, we don't feel they're going to do anything tous. We're not looking at them as the offender."Ron Jackson/El Centro Hispaño:"Oursimilarities greatly outweigh our differences. We're working together fora common cause."

That common cause is racial harmony in a city that's becoming more diverse.

Chester Jenkins, director of Durham's Human Relations Commission, saysthe city must follow President Clinton's lead on bridging the racial divideby first talking and then taking action."The Latino community, the Hispanic community, the blackcommunity, the white.. the Asian. Let's get together and talk about whatwe can do to make Durham the best place that it can be."

Jenkins says the city is looking at how crimes against Hispanics mightbe hate crimes. But El Centro Hispaño believes the crimes are not motivatedby hate... but by opportunity. Members say the crimes do not reflect one communityagainst another... but as acts of individuals.

On Thursday, City Manager Lamont Ewell will hold a news conference todiscuss the city's efforts to stop the violence against Durham's Hispaniccommunity and others.