JLF Triangle Blog

‘Hug-a-Thug’ law enforcement has consequences

About every two weeks or so the Trinity Park listserv lights up with people who have heard what they believe to be gunshots. I’ve heard them, too, on occasion in my area. The cops are always notified in such instances, which is as it should be.

Gunshots in neighborhoods, any neighborhood, are not good for the city’s image or the health of residents. Durham Mayor Bill Bell was seeking a $300,000 minimum bond for anyone who discharges a gun illegally in Durham, but the legal eagles of the city watered that down to apply only “when an alleged transgressor had been out of bond for unrelated charges and had been convicted of a firearms-related crime sometime in the past five years,” according to The Herald-Sun.

It’s right and proper for the mayor to be concerned about people firing guns like the Taliban after a beheading. But his comments to local judges yesterday show that at least some of his concern is misplaced. He blames the victims in the inner city for not raising a hue and cry similar to that raised by residents of more affluent neighborhoods, not the criminals for doing the shooting:

“In some of our inner-city communities, when you hear parents come up and talk about gunshots, and how their kids jump under the bed or get in bathrooms and stuff, that’s not something we need,” Bell said. “If you were in Croasdaile, if you were in Emory Woods, if you were in Hope Valley, if you were in any of these communities and you were hearing gunshots, you would bet you’d find much more outcry about what’s happening in this community. And it shouldn’t be that way.”

“The same type of pattern that we have for Hope Valley, Emory Woods and Croasdaile should be the same standards for have over in North-East Central Durham and Southwest Central Durham,” he added. “For me, it’s not tolerable for people to fire guns in the city of Durham.”

A question Bell leaves unasked is why are gunshots so rare in these affluent communities, and so prevalent in the inner city? Why do residents in Durham’s inner city, to hear Bell tell it, seem to have more of a tolerance for gunfire, and don’t raise similar outcries in their community than do people in Trinity Park, Hope Valley, or Croasdaile.

Maybe it’s because they know, from Durham’s long history of coddling inner city criminals, which many have dubbed the “Hug-a-Thug” approach to law enforcement, that nothing will be done about it.

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