A silent stand against abuse

Staff WriterOctober 14, 2009 

— They gathered Tuesday in front of the Wake County Courthouse to honor and remember Jammie Shantel Street, who was shot to death outside her children's day care. Police have charged her boyfriend in the killing.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while honoring the memory of Street, many of the men and women who gathered downtown at noon had their own stories of survival.

Three framed pictures dangled from a necklace Fran Bumgarner wore. One of the pictures was of Valerie Gates. The others were of 2-year-old Kendall Lee, Bumgarner's first grandchild, and Kendall's mother, Cordae Lee.

The Lees were visiting Gates at her Orange County home in 2005, when her father, Allen Gates, burst into the house and gunned down the two women and the toddler.

"He had been battering the family for years and never spent a day in jail for it," Bumgarner said. "Valerie lived with her mother, and Allen Gates had come over to rape her."

Purple lapel ribbons and small fliers that honored Street were handed out at Tuesday's gathering by members of the N.C. Domestic Violence Task Force and volunteers with InterAct, the Raleigh nonprofit that advocates on behalf of victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.

The group of more than 50 people then marched up and down Fayetteville Street, between Martin and Hargett streets. Some of the marchers held signs: "A Woman Is Abused Every 9 Seconds" and "Love Shouldn't Hurt."

Rene Raeford, a state employee and a member of InterAct, slipped on a pair of sneakers during her lunch break to participate in the rally and remember her sister, Yvette Raeford. On Nov.11, 2005, Yvette Raeford's former boyfriend stepped from behind bushes near an elementary school in Richmond, Va., and shot her more than a dozen times before he turned the gun on himself in a murder-suicide.

Rene Raeford said her sister taught elementary school in Wake County before breaking up with her boyfriend and moving from Zebulon to Virginia.

"There was no history of domestic violence," Rene Raeford said. "She wanted to start over."

Raeford describes the work she does with InterAct as therapeutic. "I try to make a special effort in October to come out," she said. Raeford also will speak next week at a vigil for people who have been killed as a result of domestic violence.

Raeford said members of her church choir in Raleigh often sang at the church where police say Jammie Street was shot to death by DanielJerome Montgomery, who then shot himself in the chest. Montgomery survived and has been charged with murder in Street's death.

Domestic violence activists and leaders at the march Tuesday were concerned about reports that Street's death may have been prevented if she had spoken up in court about a separate assault charge pending against her boyfriend or had renewed a protective order against him rather than trying to salvage their relationship.

"What many people do not understand is that a victim's chances of being killed increases by 75 percent when the victim attempts to leave the relationship," said Beth Froehling, co-director of the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4533

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