Peterson 'reaches out to people'

Staff writerNovember 28, 2010 

— Victoria Peterson, a Friend of Crystal Mangum and executive director of Triangle Citizens Rebuilding Communities, has unsuccessfully run for public office several times. Her nonprofit agency provides job training for ex-offenders and other hard-up workers, and she frequently speaks for that cause at City Council meetings. She scrutinizes business incentive plans, making sure companies getting tax breaks to come to Durham promise to hire locals.

Peterson’s interests range far beyond jobs, though. She has pushed local leaders to raise city-council pay, ban urban chickens, merge city and county government and scrutinize the performance of Durham Regional Hospital. She frequently violates time limits on speaking in public meetings, and board chairpersons have cut off her comments against gay marriage and public immodesty.

Peterson has been arrested for trespassing at abortion clinics, chastised by an N.C. Central University student-leader for interrupting her opponents at a campaign forum and thrown out of Mike Nifong’s removal hearing before the N.C. Bar.

Peterson shouted words of support for Nifong outside the Durham County jail before and after he spent a night there after lying to a judge. At Nifong’s bar hearing in June 2007, she was kicked out because she approached a mother of one of the lacrosse players and said Durhamites still believed Mangum’s story. She then hijacked a live shot on WRAL to complain about being banished.

Before Cooper cleared the lacrosse players, Peterson filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, saying the athletes’ racial epithets had violated the dancer’s civil rights.

Though unrelated, Peterson has also been a vocal defender of Michael Peterson, the author and former City Council candidate convicted of murdering his wife in 2003.

“Victoria reaches out to people,” said county commissioners’ chairman Page. “She doesn’t do it in the most polite way, but she reaches out to people.”

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

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