Five years ago, Chapel Hill lost three of its brightest lights.
On Feb. 10, 2015, Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were shot execution-style by their neighbor outside Chapel Hill’s Finley Forest Condominiums. Deah, his wife Yusor and her sister Razan were all Muslim.
Though they were unfairly and inexplicably taken from us out of hate, Deah, Yusor and Razan represented nothing but love. The Town of Chapel Hill has named Feb. 10 as Our Three Winners Day to commemorate the legacy of Deah, Yusor and Razan and their commitment to service. And in the fall, the UNC School of Dentistry celebrates DEAH DAY — which stands for Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor — to memorialize Barakat, a dental student at UNC.
It’s still hard to believe something like this would happen in a place like Chapel Hill. But part of honoring their memory requires taking off the rose-colored glasses and reckoning with the fact that Chapel Hill isn’t nearly as safe as it could be. Not for women. Not for minorities. And especially not for Deah, Yusor and Razan.
This was not a parking dispute. And it wasn’t an isolated incident, either. According to a Safe Home study, hate crimes in North Carolina rose 64 percent between 2013 and 2017 — significantly higher than the national average of 22 percent.