DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Fed up with gun violence, community activists held a ‘Stop Killing Us’ rally outside of the McDougald Terrace neighborhood Saturday in Durham.
“In McDougald Terrace, there was a shooting that took place while we were planning for this event,” said Minister Curtis Gatewood, founder of Stop Killing Us Solutions Campaign (SKU).
Since January, Durham police have responded to at least 291 shootings, 91 people have been shot, 17 have died, according to the latest update provided by city officials.
“Were losing a lot of kids to the streets, we really are, and it’s the saddest thing ever,” said Ashley Canady, President of the McDougald Terrace Residence Council.
Saturday, dozens of residents and activists marched up and down the streets surrounding McDougald Terrace, calling on neighbors to come out and join them.
“Awareness is the first place that we just start,” said Kimberly Muktarian, president of the group Save Our Sons (S.O.S).
Organizers had an open mic at the rally for people to speak freely about their experiences and possible solutions. They also invited election officials to come by and listen.
“To show unity with people, that as an elected official, I’m no different than they are,” chairwoman of the Durham County Commissioners Brenda Howerton said about why she joined the rally.
The Durham City Council approved nearly $1 million to hire 18 people called violence interrupters who go into neighborhoods and help prevent shootings. But it’s been six months and no one has been hired.
Community activists have other solutions.
“We need jobs, we need jobs, skill trades, mentoring programs,” said Canady.
Gatewood added, “We can make sure there are jobs, we can make sure our children are educated rather than being pushed out into the streets.”
They plan to keep pushing their message by holding rallies in other neighborhoods with high crime rates.
“I believe it sends another message of what they’re accustomed to seeing; around them is death and dilapidation. And today, this is a start. And we gotta continue to make this a repeat, a social norm,” said Muktarian.