A culture of violence and apathy

Jun. 28, 2013 @ 03:02 PM

There have been 10 men, ranging in age from teens to upper 40s, shot in nine days in Durham. That puts a sobering spin on a T-shirt recently unveiled by a local entrepreneur with the slogan, “I’d rather be shot in Durham than die of boredom in Cary.”

Durham residents pride ourselves on an edgier, grittier personality than our neighbors to the east. It’s part of our character. But the continued gun violence that is part of Durham’s culture in so many pockets of the city, and our implicit acceptance of it, is a part of our city that has got to change.
It’s a drum we have beaten too many times in this space. We appreciate Mayor Bill Bell’s actions to curb gun violence. We have not always agreed with our mayor on how to do it, but we fully support him in the idea that something needs to be done.
People are able to access guns too easily, both through legal and illegal means. The penalties in gun-related crimes may not be stiff enough. There are economic components that need to be addressed. All of these issues need to be examined and debated.
But what do we do about residents’ complacency when it comes to the shootings? Many people, it seems, make the assumption – sometimes rightly – that the shootings are the result of bad people engaging in unsavory activities in high-crime areas in Durham. But why should that make us care less?
The fallout from these shootings ripples through the community. The perpetrators will go to jail; we’ll foot the bill. They will find it difficult to find employment once they have served their time. Again, we’ll foot the bill.
And when you read about the victims and their families, the scarring is clear. Twenty-one-year-old DeAndre Montez Oliver, who was shot and killed on May 3, was survived by his 5-month-old daughter. He also left behind his dad, two brothers, grandparents, aunts, cousins and two nephews. Each one of those lives has been irrevocably altered by a bullet.
He and his family should matter to all of us. A father grieves and a little girl will grow up never knowing her dad. If you don’t know what else to do about people being shot in Durham, the least you can do is offer support to this family by attending a vigil at 6 Saturday night outside Mr. Oliver’s family’s home, 2636 Glenbrook Drive. It’s a start.