The tragedy of gun violence in Durham, North Carolina is a microcosm of a national trend.
In 2005 there were 37 murders in Durham, NC. Many of the dead were young men, ages 16 to 30 years old, the victims of shootings related to gang violence, robberies and other crimes.
To put a face with the issue, I photographed the mothers of some of these victims, at the scene where their sons were murdered.
The story they share is becoming too common: Murder and grief turn their lives upside down and they are left to navigate a complicated judicial system that they often know little about. Many can barely afford to bury their children. Their slain babies cannot defend themselves. Their lambs are called losers; they are written off as drug dealers, as criminals, as poor, as black and brown and deserving of their fate.
Boy Scouts, gang-bangers, bread winners, drug dealers, addicts, honor students, drop-outs, football heros and innocent bystanders are all equal on the embalming table.
These are our kids, and they are not disposable.
“I am the mother of a murdered child
I wear this label but I’m not proud
You see, it was given to me by a man with a gun
Who felt the need,
Had the power to make me one...”
-Diane Jones, Mother of David Bullock, killed March 25, 1997