Durham activist’s death in motorcycle wreck is big loss, community members say

Umar Muhammad (CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham police say around 11:40 a.m. Monday, a motorcycle and car crashed on South Alston Avenue.

The biker who died was Umar Muhammad, 30, a well-known activist in Durham.

RELATED: Cadillac driver charged in deadly Durham motorcycle crash

“Well, of course I didn’t believe it actually, and it’s still very unreal,” said Anita Earls, the executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Muhammad worked there for three and a half years after spending time behind bars.

But he took his past and used it to become an outspoken activist, fighting for criminal justice reform.

“They know what restorative justice is looking like, and we need to start leaning on our grassroots organizations to make this happen,” said Muhammad during a Durham City Council meeting before his death.

“When people think community activist and someone who’s willing to call out injustices, maybe the thing they don’t know about Umar is that comes from a place from a deep love and respect from everyone in the community,” said Earls.

Muhammad was known for helping people who had experienced racism and discrimination.

People who knew him say he naturally connected with people, and processing his death won’t come easy.

“I think people are reeling from this loss and that it will take a long time for us to really fully appreciate what we no longer have,” said Earls.

Muhammad leaves behind two young twins, and a daughter who was born two months ago.

Investigators charged Rodney McLaurin with misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to yield right of way and driving while his license was revoked.

McLaurin was placed in Durham county jail under a $10,000 bond and scheduled to be in court next month.


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