Supporters of a proposed Cure Violence program in Greensboro offered a passionate and unified message at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, Feb. 7.
The speakers – who spoke one after another from the floor at the start of the meeting – included a former Cure Violence supervisor from New York City, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers, a Greensboro father whose son had been killed by gun violence and C.J. Brinson who read a statement from State Rep. Ashton Clemmons.
Cure Violence is a program that originated in Chicago with the goal of bringing down murder rates in chosen areas of that city. The program employs ex-felons and other street-wise people who go into the inner cities and attempt to prevent murders and other violent crimes.
Supporters of the program want Guilford County and the City of Greensboro to spend about $300,000 each to establish a program in the city; however, critics say there’s little evidence to support its effectiveness. For instance, the number of murders in Durham went up after the program was implemented there.
At the Feb. 7 meeting, advocates argued that the program had been very successful in some areas and they also stated that the program had been effective in bringing down the murder rate in the parts of Durham where Cure Violence was active.
At the meeting, Bryan Telfair spoke about the murder of his son who was shot 10 times in October 2016.
“My son had no criminal record,” Telfair said. “His only goal that night was to ride with a friend to a store and, on the way back, bring his mom a tray from Cook Out. That day changed my life forever. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I’ve been wondering how things would be now – how he would be interacting with his daughter and raising his child.”
Telfair said gun violence brings irreparable harm to those it affects.
“Words cannot convey the loss of my son – do not let your child be the next victim,” he told the board.
Brinson said at the meeting, “I wanted to come out tonight and show you that this is a large issue within our community and there is a lot of support for this issue and there are others here to speak on behalf of these issues.”
He then read the letter from Clemmons.
“Preventing violence before it happens, as Cure Violence hopes to do, is critical,” the statement read. “No one should suffer from senseless acts of bloodshed.”
Clemmons stated in the letter that she had contacted the NC Department of Public Safety and was informed that there were state grants available to help mitigate the future fiscal responsibility of Greensboro and Guilford County for the program.
“However, the state does not offer assistance until after the financial establishment of a council, group or organization,” Clemmons wrote in the letter that Brinson read.
In that letter, Clemmons encouraged the county to send a representative to the grants workshop put on by the Governor’s Crime Commission and learn of potential funding opportunities.
Clemmons also stated in the letter that she was committed to helping Greensboro and Guilford County in the effort.
Art Durham, a new Greensboro resident who moved to this area from New York City, said he had personally observed the effectiveness of Cure Violence.
“I stand here with these gentlemen who are adamant about trying to bring about change here,” he said.
He said that, as a supervisor in the program, he had seen it have a tremendous effect in New York. He cited crime statistics from Queens and Harlem where the program is in effect.
Durham said he was willing to stake his reputation on the program and its effectiveness.
Greensboro and Guilford County are currently in talks to place the program under One Step Further Inc. a nonprofit run by Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson.