DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Saturday afternoon, former gang members, prisoners, and drug addicts met and spoke with youth in downtown Durham at the annual Bull City Youth Summit.
The youth football organization, Bull City Bulldogs, held the summit at the Lyon Park Center on Halley Street.
Dozens of children attended and heard stories from former gang members, prisoners, and drug addicts. The group encouraged children to stay off the streets and on the right track.
This comes as gun violence continues to be a problem in some of the neighborhoods where the children live.
On Friday night, a teen girl was shot and killed on Woodcrest Street in east Durham, and the organizers of Saturday’s event said some of the children at the summit knew the girl who was killed.
Police said another man was shot and killed in broad daylight Saturday afternoon on Holloway Street.
“Some of these kids have gotten so desensitized to this stuff, it’s like you’re talking to them and in their mind, it’s a normal thing,” said Fred Evans, director of Bull City Bulldogs. “We’re doing our best to try to get them to realize this is not normal. It’s time to make a change and the change can start with them at that level.”
Demarius Yarborough is a former gang member who spoke to the youth at Saturday’s summit.
Recruited to be in a gang at the age of 13 or 14 in Durham, Yarborough said it’s crucial that the community intervenes at an early age and that there should be more programs for youth in the community.
“I kind of want to steer the youth in a different direction, it’s just so easy to get caught up out here, man,” Yarborough said. “It’s just entirely too easy to get caught up and they don’t have enough people out here sitting and telling them ‘no, don’t go that way, go this way.’”
So far this year, there have been 357 shooting incidents in Durham, which is down from the 373 shooting incidents that had occurred by this time in 2021, according to data from Durham Police.
There have been 21 people killed so far this year in Durham, which is up from the 19 people killed this time last year.