Community activists Victoria Peterson and Rafiq Zaidi want a federal investigation into shootings and murders of Durham’s black residents over the past 15 years.
“The city, the county and the state have neglected their duty,” Peterson said Thursday, after she and Zaidi delivered a letter requesting the investigation to U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s Durham office.
“It’s time to ask the federal government to come in and protect us,” she said. “We feel our constitutional rights are not being protected.”
Peterson was particularly alarmed by drive-by shootings that have injured children and said she and other residents fear to sit on their porches because of the chance of being shot.
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In the letter, Peterson states her belief that the local and state governments are “in violation of the Equal Protection Act of the Federal Government” and that she as an African-American citizen is “no longer experiencing the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Peterson has been a frequent critic of Police Chief José L. Lopez, and on Thursday said “many of us are very disappointed” in Mayor Bill Bell and City Manager Tom Bonfield as well for not having “stepped up to the plate to proect the African-American community.”
Durham police spokesman Wil Glenn declined to comment.
Butterfield was not at the office when Peterson and Zaidi called, but Annettte Taylor, his community engagement director in Durham, accepted the letter.
“We will pass this information on to the congressman,” Taylor said.
“Will he do an investigation?” Peterson asked.
“We can’t say,” Taylor said.