An organization in south Durham continues its work to curb the number of shootings, killings and other violent crime in the city. Bull City United is kicking off 2018 with a “Week of Peace.” The organization will hold candlelight vigils this week in Durham communities where violent crime has been most prevalent.
David Johnson will wear his “Bull City United” t-shirt to the events this week.
“That’s the logo, Bull City United. That’s what we’re trying to do, bring the city together," said Johnson, pointing to two hands and thumbs signifying bull horns.
Johnson is a trained “Violence Interrupter" and a former gang member. He spends his days trying to interrupt conflict before it happens and even when people are already armed.
“Peace is a lifestyle," said Johnson. "It’s nothing that’s set in stone that says our community [has] to be violent."
Dorel Clayton is the Supervisor of Bull City United, which falls under the Durham County Department of Public Health. He says they also work to change social norms that tolerate violence.
“We have definitely had an impact throughout the city, by doing mediations, conflict mediations and finding a different way to resolve conflicts verses just shooting," said Clayton. "Because it is a public health issue, it is, it truly is.”
Bull City United members are trained in the "Cure Violence" model, born out of the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health. The model is a public health approach to violence prevention, treating violence as "a learned behavior that can be prevented." "Cure Violence" is used across the country, including in Chicago, Baltimore and New York.
This week’s candlelight vigils run from Wednesday to Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. They will take place at the Cornwallis housing community, East End Park, Edgemont, Southside and McDougald Terrace. A Saturday event will begin at 2 p.m. at the Liberty Street housing community. The vigils were scheduled for last week, but below freezing temperatures resulted in rescheduling most of the vigils for this week.
The candlelight vigils include calling off the names of Durham victims of gun violence.