Community advocates will gather this week in Winston-Salem to address gang and drug-related violence. The four-day conference comes as the homicide rate has ticked up in the city.
The mission of the Corner 2 Corner Drug Dealers and Street Life Conference is to educate, mentor, and deter gang violence. Event leaders say they want to address those issues head-on, as there have been 24 murders in the city compared to 21 this time last year.
Vegas Don, an ex gang-leader, will lead youth sessions addressing the challenges of getting out of a gang once you're in one.
Bishop Sir Walter Mack, the pastor at Union Baptist Church, has been with the program since its beginning. He says they want to help those wrapped up in drug dealing apply their skills to noncriminal areas of employment.
“We offer them a plan, a strategy, to turn their life around,” says Mack. “After three days, we see that hope back in their face and their eyes. We see them light up again. And their life is never the same.”
Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough will also speak at the conference. It starts on Thursday and is open to the public.