Even with 45 percent fewer homicides in 2017, Durham continues call for peace
Posted January 1, 2018 10:33 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2018 11:45 p.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — The new year is beginning with a call for peace in Durham.
The annual Bull City United's Week of Peace week-long event is designed to stop violence.
On a dark, cold street corner on the west end of Durham, a group gathered to remember victims to start the week.
"Every name that was called tonight, it's senseless, it's a loved one gone," David Johnson said.
20 names were read, representing the 20 people murdered in Durham in 2017.
Every night this week a vigil will be held in a different neighborhood with a history of gun violence.
B.J. Smith he was one of the trouble makers growing up.
"The street that you are on right now used to be filled with drugs, shootings, we stopped all that and pushed all of that away from over here," Smith said.
"Now the kids can come out and play, and the older women and older men are able to come out."
He's now working to turn the West End around. Still he lost a good friend to gun violence this year.
"He was at the point that he was changing his life," Smith said. "And I feel like I failed him."
For many at this vigil, peace hasn't always been the path.
"I spent 13 years of my life in prison, just making the wrong decisions," Johnson said.
"That's what I feel like that's my calling to come and help people and show them there is a better way."
Organizers hope others will see the light and choose peace instead of violence.
The murder rate in the Bull City dropped significantly in 2017. According to Durham Police crime statistics, there were about 45 percent fewer homicides.