A few days ago a Raleigh N&O story on crime in Durham included the following:
Stith was the first of several [Durham City] council members to mention threats made by a gang member sentenced to life in prison for murder last week.Gang violence is a major problem in Durham. Gang-related crimes are growing in number and boldness. Shootings are committed in broad daylight and near schools and shopping areas.
Tyrone Dean told jurors who convicted him that he would have people follow them home to retaliate for their verdict.
Stith said he has heard from people with "a real concern and real level of fear" that the threat was not idle. Chalmers didn't offer specifics but said, "We will be looking at individuals, and there will be consequences. […]
"What I'm fearful of is if something happens to one of our jurors, what kind of message would that send to people who are asked to serve on any jury, but particularly those involving gangs?" council member Eugene Brown said.[…]
The cops on the street will tell you they’re now battling gangs that are larger and better organized for crime than a year ago.
With all that in mind I recalled a Johnsville News post from October 3, 2006 which began:
Street gangs or gang-rape, which one should be the real issue in the November election for Durham district attorney?That Johnsville News post, Durham’s Gangland , is the best piece of news reporting and commentary on Durham’s gang problems I’ve ever read.
Durham has a growing gang problem, but the November 7th election is a referendum on Mike Nifong and his prosecution of three innocent Duke lacrosse players. The street gang problem is being ignored in favor of focusing on a racially charged rape hoax. That's too bad for Durham, which could use a full debate about solutions to its gang, gun, and drug problems.
It’s informed and detailed. It reminds you of the kind of reports top-notch “crusading” newspapers do to inform their communities about major problems that are not getting the attention they deserve.
Johnsville makes clear that at the start of 2006 Nifong thought the May Democratic primary campaign would focus on gang problems. That would force the DA’s office to be very active in prosecuting gang-related crime. It would also focus public attention on gang problems and ask voters to decide whether Nifong or his primary opponent, Freda Black, would make a better “gang-fighting DA.”
But that all went by the boards when Nifong decided to frame three white Duke students rather than take on gang-related crime.
People are right. Nifong's legacy includes diminished public confidence in our justice system. Also, he's made things more difficult for actual rape victims.
And then there’s Durham’s growing gang-violence: that, too, is part of Nifong’s legacy.
I’ll be posting again on The Johnsville News’ Durham’s Gangland.
Great work, Johnsville.