From a Place of Love

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We Can

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Transformed By The Journey

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Follow Up Letter from Durham CAN to Sheriff Birkhead: COVID-19 Testing Data

May 20, 2020
Clarence F. Birkhead
Sheriff, Durham County

Dear Sheriff Birkhead,

As our community continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we first want to thank you for your April 6 letter detailing the initial measures you took to prevent the spread of the virus in the Durham County Detention Center. After detention officer Alexander Pettiway, Jr.’s death from COVID-19 and several other officers testing positive for the disease, we write with continued concern for the safety of your employees and our incarcerated brothers and sisters. In addition to seeking information, we also want to know how we as a community can assist and support you in making the detention center as safe as possible.

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Early Release Support

Over the past 10 weeks, our Criminal Justice Action Team has led efforts focused on decarceration as an approach to preventing the spread of Covid-19 among our jail & prison populations. Due to the work of our leaders, in collaboration with community organizations and the leadership of Durham County District Attorney's Office, Satana Deberry, we've seen 15-16 individuals who are over the age of 65, with pre-existing health conditions, who have served 75% or more of their sentence (for lower-level crimes) receive modifications to their sentences and be released. These include individuals who would have otherwise remained incarcerated in places like Neuse Correctional, the site of one of the largest outbreaks in the nation.
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Response from Durham County, Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead re: COVID-19 & Incarcerated Community Members

On Friday, April 3rd, Durham CAN sent a letter to Durham County Sheriff, Clarence F. Birkhead, to express our concerns and priorities regarding our brothers and sisters in the Durham County Detention Facility; and to invite his thoughts about how we as a community could assist him and his staff in securing the necessary resources to protect the men and women in his custody. Our letter also included a list of questions about the specific measures he was taking at the Detention Center facility to prevent the spread of a virus.

On Monday, April 7th, Sheriff Birkhead provided the following response:

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Decarceration As Covid Response: Our Thanks To Durham District Attorney Deberry

April 27, 2020

Satana Deberry

District Attorney, Durham County

 

Dear Ms. Deberry,

We write to follow up on our letter of March 27 and our conversation on April 2. First, thank you for your efforts in reducing our county’s jail population during this pandemic. As of this morning the jail population is 265. That number was nearly 500 when you took office, and it was over 360 five weeks ago. The drastic reduction, achieved through a combination of fewer and lower pretrial bonds and sensible plea agreements, is laudable. We thank you, the defense bar, and the responsible magistrates and judges for such quick and dramatic action in deference to public health.

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April Metro Council Meeting via Zoom

We hope that you and all those you hold dear are faring well during these times.

A lot has changed since our last Metro Council Meeting at Abundant Hope.  And the fact is that many of the communities we organize with are in a constant state of emergency even when there isn't a pandemic. So while this moment forces us to adjust our methods and our tempo, we still remain committed to action.

Leaders from all Durham CAN institutions, as well as those assessing membership, are welcome to our April Metro Council meeting:

Durham CAN Metro Council Meeting
Thursday, April 16, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

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Statement from Durham CAN to Durham County Sheriff, Clarence F. Birkhead

April 3, 2020

Clarence F. Birkhead Sheriff, Durham County

Dear Sheriff Birkhead,

As our community prepares for the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Durham CAN write to share our concerns and priorities regarding our brothers and sisters in the Durham County Detention Facility. In addition to communicating our agenda, we write in a spirit of cooperation, with an invitation to please let us know how we as a community can assist you and your staff in securing the necessary resources to protect the men and women in your custody.

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Register for PBS Documentary - Eastlake Meadows Zoom Discussion with Durham CAN Leaders

Durham CAN will be hosting two opportunities to discuss the PBS Documentary, East Lake Meadows, this week. Please register in advance by clicking on the link for the discussion session that works best for you.
 
 
Once you have registered, you will be sent a Zoom link that you will use to join the session.  (See photo below. The red arrow points to the Zoom link.)
ZoomRegExample.jpg
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Statement from Durham CAN to Durham District Attorney, Satana Deberry

March 27, 2020
Satana Deberry
District Attorney, Durham County

Dear Ms. Deberry,
As our community prepares for the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Durham CAN want to add our voice to the growing cry for help for one of our most vulnerable populations: our incarcerated brothers and sisters. As closed environments, jails and prisons present the highest risk of illness from a virus. Outbreaks in our detention and correctional facilities are inevitable. In explaining his stay-at-home order, Mayor Schewel declared that the window for keeping ourselves safe is now. Similarly, the window for releasing our community members from prisons to spare them, and other incarcerated people and the staff that secure them, from this dangerous disease is now.

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PBS Documentary on the Impact of Racism on Public Housing Tonight

It's the story of a public housing community in Atlanta that became nearly uninhabitable after years of neglect and underfunding. Eventually, it was torn down to create a mixed-income community.  Yet, only 15% of people returned to the property after it was completed. Some were ineligible to return due to tighter restrictions.
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Organizing In The Time of Pandemic

Over the past week, I've spent some time thinking about the implications of this moment for a practice of organizing that is deeply relational -- eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul.

I shared some thoughts this morning with our Clergy Caucus members and thought I'd share with ya'll:

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Adjusting Our Rhythm

“All real living is in meeting."  - Martin Buber, I and Thou

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Report from March 5th Metro Council & Next Steps

Durham CAN held its first Metro Council Meeting of 2020 at Abundant Hope Christian Church on Thursday, March 5th.  After a welcome and invocation from Rev. Mark-Anthony Middleton, Strategy Team members Rev. Timothy Conder and Ms. Ketty Thelemaque led a formal evaluation of our recent McDougald Terrace action and conducted a "fishbowl" exercise with our new lead organizer, Ms. Tinu Diver.  We set a collective vision for 2020 as a year of "dis-organizing and reorganizing" and a time to prioritize training, rebuilding core teams and running another cycle of listening campaigns.

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2/20 Metro Council Rescheduled to 3/5

Due to anticipated snow tomorrow evening, the Metro Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 20th will be held on Thursday, March 5th from 6-8pm at Abundant Hope Church.

Please be sure to RSVP or update your RSVP.

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McDougald Terrace Press Conference Report & Next Steps

“…Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love….” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."

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