University of Delaware Professor Yasser Payne’s Efforts to Decrease Wilmington’s Crime Rate
Growing up running the streets of Harlem, Payne’s seen more than his share of violence—and he believes he has a way to end it. Will it change a troubled Wilmington?
(page 9 of 9)
“Coming to the UD was a godsend,” he says. “I needed to get away from all that violence. Geographically, I knew my life was going to change. But it was also very lonely. I had to figure out a new relationship with myself. I realized I had to honor the process.”
Not long after his arrival, he was driving to his brother’s sentencing hearing when he saw a stray cat on the New Jersey Turnpike. He dashed into the traffic to save her.
“I grabbed her hard. I couldn’t let her slip away,” he says. “She reminded me of me because she had such a rough track.” He laughs. “She has an edge to this day. She’ll swipe at you. She’s all street.”
Freeway and her daughter, Kush, he says, have taught him a lot about social conditioning. They have brought companionship. And they have brought love. “Talk about God’s plan. It was perfect.”
Because despite all the study and presentations and community organizing and other work, ending violence boils down to one thing.
“Love,” says Payne. “The currency is love.”