Thursday, October 5, 2023

Murders in Durham

The recent spate of violence in Durham is nothing like what is happening now in Portland, but for anyone who works Downtown, the increased violence and schizophrenia of the panhandling and unhoused community is well known. In a terrible quote from the Times article above,

He estimated that based on the body’s temperature, this victim had been dead for more than an hour, which meant dozens of commuters had walked by his body during rush hour before one stopped to check his breathing and call 911.

Monday, a Duke grad student was murdered, and the man held in custody is someone known to the bar and restaurant industry of Durham as a regular.

Last night at 11pm, my own neighbor in Northgate Park was shot at in his car as he pulled in. In the morning, I found the car window punctured with a bullet hole, and four spent casings littered the curb next to my eucalyptus tree. Thirty people have been shot and killed this year in Durham, and 115 non-fatally. Growing up, the only pops I heard where from a tennis court nearby my home. Now I have to tell my son not to be scared when he hears gunshots.

Implicit in the Times article is that we are all complicit in the stepping around of a dead body laying out in the street. Two months ago, arriving at work, a Durham ambassador told me as I stepped out of my car, "You got a body in your bathroom". There was a man sprawled out on the bakery customer bathroom floor, a dirty knee twisted as if to draw a perfect chalk outline. He could have been sleeping, so I spoke to him. No reply. Not even a flickering of the eyelids. His skin color was between olive and gray. I yelled louder. No response. Should I check to see if he's breathing? Five minutes later, I put 911 on speakerphone. After a couple minutes, the sound of the dispatcher must have roused him. He got up and scampered away, leaving his phone charging in the wall outlet.

We depend on our City officials to provide safety and security for the residents. We depend on first responders to handle crisis situations. We depend upon the health care system to tend to mental illness and addiction. We depend on the legal and penal system to provide pathways to rehabilitation for offenders. Right now, none of these systems are working, either independently or together. It's enough to give you a panic attack.

That is exactly what happened to me. In the second year of Covid (2022), I began getting panic attacks from the overwhelm of everything that was going wrong. I eventually began seeing a holistic chiropractor/therapist and went down the path of becoming a trained breathwork guide and ice therapy coach. It's helped. And I've been able to train others. For every systemic malfunction, there are people like Michael Bock who are like Jedi, like angels literally trying to "hold back the ocean". The ocean is coming, and the question remains what we're going to do about it.