As Durham continues to grapple with the problem with gun violence, members of the group Bull City United said they are constantly working to address the problem through conducting mediations in the community.
Funded by both city and county tax dollars, Bull City United is made up of 25 members who have been through the criminal justice system and who have ties to some of the at-risk communities in Durham.
Bull City United members work as either violence interrupters or outreach workers in six different neighborhoods in Durham, which include Fayetteville Street near Dawkins, McDougald Terrace, Oxford Manor, Cornwallis Road, the St. Teresa neighborhood and the Golden Belt area near downtown.
According to a report Bull City United presented to Durham City Council members- during a work session on Thursday, BCU conducted 1,365 mediations in these six neighborhoods during the 2022 fiscal year.
“In my eyes and the eyes of our staff, this program is working tremendously,” said David Johnson, the Bull City United Supervisor.
It was at the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year when Bull City United started their expansion and the group went from seven members to 25.
The report also showed that in two of the census tracts they cover, there were zero shootings in the last three months of the fiscal year.
“Once Bull City United expanded, we saw a decrease in gun violence in these neighborhoods,” said Keshia Gray, a member of Bull City United.
City Council members praised Bull City United for their efforts on addressing violent crime.
“You put your lives on the line every day that you go to work,” Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal told members of BCU during the city council work session.
Mayor Pro Tem Mark Anthony Middleton agreed with Mayor O’Neal.
“Know you’re making a different, keep doing the work, keep pushing the program,” Middleton said.
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Background It was during late March 2020, soon after the pandemic first made global headlines, that a group of leading mediators and mediation trainers realized on a Zoom call that the ONLY...By Forrest (Woody) Mosten, James Melamed, J.D.