‘Enough is enough’: Shreveport city leaders address ‘pandemic’ of gun violence
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - City leaders and representatives of Shreveport’s fire and police departments held a news conference Wednesday, May 5 about gun violence in the city.
The news conference was held at 3 p.m. at Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport.
A number of community leaders and activists who are in support of efforts to stop gun violence in the city were in attendance, including elected leaders, business owners, faith-based leaders and other interested parties.
Shreveport Fire Chief Clarence Reese Jr. spoke first, saying first responders suffer with the gun violence in the city too since they respond to these scenes. The Fire Department is just as invested as the Police Department since they’re typically first on scene to treat gunshot victims, he said.
Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond also spoke, saying “we do a lot of talking and we need to see more action.” He asked, “When as a society did we become comfortable with resolving differences with violence?”
Just in the past two days in Shreveport, two girls were shot on Morningside Drive, one person was killed on Linwood Avenue, a teenager was shot multiple times while being chased by two males, and a man died after being shot multiple times in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Pines Road.
On Wednesday afternoon, another shooting was reported on Herndon Street. That victim sustained life-threatening injuries.
Fire Chief Scott Wolverton echoed Reese’s statements, saying the Fire Department will do whatever it can to support law enforcement in stopping the violence.
Mayor Adrian Perkins mentioned a father who recently called his office to say his child’s T-ball team had to cancel its practices because they were hearing too many gunshots while the children were out on the field. “We have a serious, serious problem if we think it’s okay to have guns going off near our children,” the mayor said.
Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor responded vehemently to the mayor’s story about T-ball practice being canceled. “My babies can’t play T-ball? Are you kidding me?” she cried.
Taylor spoke passionately about how the gun violence in Shreveport is not just a “Black problem” and about how the “trust factor” has to be built between the community and law enforcement.
Councilman Jerry Bowman then echoed Taylor’s statements about gun violence not just being a Black problem. And while he was speaking, Bowman was interrupted by a woman holding a sign saying “WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU.”
He went back and forth with the woman, and he reiterated that this is part of the problem and that leadership needs to be accountable. The woman yelled out that he is the problem and will be replaced.
Caddo Commissioner Lyndon Johnson told those gathered at the news conference that 80% of the shots fired aren’t even reported, meaning violence in the city likely is higher than people realize. He urged community members to set aside their differences.
The leaders of both Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport and Willis-Knighton Health System spoke, saying they’re committed to ending the violence in the city as well.
Aphreikah Duhaney-West, CEO of Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, said as a Level I trauma center, the hospital and its employees experience the violence firsthand. She said the hospital is launching the program PROTECT to help victims of gun violence, as well as their families and those who witness these incidents.
Brian Crawford, chief administrative officer of Willis-Knighton, compared the gun violence crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “this is a self-inflicted pandemic that we have created, but we have the vaccine within each one of us.”
A community meeting will be held May 18 at 10 a.m. at the Skybox at Independence Stadium to address action steps for moving forward. The public is invited to attend.
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