Durham advocates call for more transparency after city council holds closed-door meeting about gun violence

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Some people in Durham are frustrated after hearing that Durham City Council held a special called meeting to talk about gun violence, but it was closed to the public and many people were not aware of it.

Durham City Council met virtually at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday and the first part of the meeting was streamed live.

The clerk took roll and Mayor Steve Schewel said they would be going into a closed session to receive reports on four ongoing shooting investigations that happened over the summer.

City council members then went into closed session and the live stream ended.

The special meeting was not posted on the “Agenda Center” portion of the website, some people told CBS 17 they were not aware of the meeting until the media told them about it.

CBS 17 requested additional information from the city and they sent the meeting notice to us which said they would be hearing reports on concerning on ongoing investigations into the following shooting incidents:

  • Drive-by shooting on Fayetteville St at Linwood Ave. on May 27
  • Double homicide at 1600 Holloway St on June 17
  • Drive-by shooting and homicide at 900 E Main St on Aug. 12
  • Homicide and drive-by shooting in McDougald Terrace on Aug. 18

Durham police told CBS 17 Mayor Schewel requested for the special meeting.

CBS 17 asked police if any arrests had been made in these shootings or why city council had decided to discuss these shootings, but police said they were unable to provide updated case information.

Durham community activist Sheryl Smith said she was not aware of the meeting until the media reached out to her.

She said she is frustrated this meeting as not open to the public.

“It’s not a secret there is gun violence in Durham,” Smith said. “The city continues to say they can’t do it alone, but they won’t work with anyone else.”

CBS 17 reached out to Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton after the closed meeting.

He said he could not give specifics on what was discussed, but said they were discussing matters that contained sensitive information.

“We can’t just go into closed session legally, just because we don’t feel like letting the public hear what we’re saying, we have to have a legal reason and our closed session today met that standard,” Middleton said.

But Smith is calling for more transparency as she argues that there needs to be more city council discussions about gun violence that are public.

“The only way you’re going to get this gun violence under control is if we work together,” Smith said.
CBS 17 asked city staff why the special called meeting was not posted on in the Agenda Center portion of the website with the other city council meetings.

A city spokesperson said that they have been onboarding new staff and there was a temporary change in the process. But they said in the future special meeting notices will be posted on the Clerk’s webpage.

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