‘MOTHERS ARE HURTING’: Shreveporters urge City Council to act to curb gun violence
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Some Shreveport residents demanded that the city’s leaders act to help curb often deadly gun violence in the city.
Mothers stepped to the microphone during Tuesday’s City Council meeting to make earnest pleas that at times were punctuated by anguished teardrops.
One person even took the time to read the names and ages of the 60+ lives that bullets have cut short this year.
“I don’t want any more bloodshed, I just want justice for my baby. Not only mine, but other mothers because mothers are hurting,” Karita Oliver told city officials.
Her son Jamarvioun R. Oliver was found shot dead just before 3:30 a.m. Jan. 3 in the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the 2800 block of Randolph Street in the city’s Werner Park neighborhood. He would have turned 19 years old on Sept. 19.
“If you have never lost a child, I promise you that you don’t want to stand in these shoes and tell nobody it’s going to be OK. It’s never going to be OK,” Karita Oliver continued. “That’s a piece of me and a piece of somebody else that you took.
“For his graduation, I had to receive his diploma. His birthday is this Sunday. He won’t be here for his 19th birthday. I got to piece together how to go to his grave because I haven’t been to his grave since I buried him in January. So now I got to live with this; and I will figure it out, eventually. But I have to find peace on something I am so lost on.”
Rudolph Glass told council members that some citizens’ lack of faith in their local government “... has led to hopelessness, distrust and decay.
“Shreveport has been a place of gun violence for a few years. All this started many years ago with neglected neighborhoods, closing schools, discriminations and systemic racism,” he added. “People’s lives are being used like they are pieces of a chess game. If this is not talked about and dealt with, Shreveport will be worse off than it is now.”
The man who got up and read off the names of all the homicide victims the city has seen this year said that city appears to be in a state of emergency.
“Every statistic you review demonstrates all areas of crime within Shreveport have increased with no slowing pace in sight,” he said. “Labor Day weekend, our city begged for assistance and comfort and only one city leader stepped away from their weekend to offer hope. All others were either silent or pushed a political agenda for a vote in November.
“My prayer is that the vision for Shreveport is cemented in a manner that rises above party politics and petty disagreements. Shreveport has potential.”
Local activists also spoke and offered ideas to curb the violence.
“Whatever our differences is, the fact still remains (that) we must find a way to solve these murders,” said Breka Peoples, founder of the Peoples Promise.
“One way to solve them is to look back and see how they solved them in the past. In the past, we solved them with police involvement,” she suggested.
“There was an officer whose record of cases you can look at. Ninety-five percent of his cases were solved successfully because he was doing what I do. Rod Demery was in the community, engaging with the people and talking with the people, helping solve our problems. I spoke to Rod Demery and he agreed to help us solve our problem. Why has no one asked him to help us? Is it because we don’t want our problems solved?”
After Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilwoman LeVette Fuller told KSLA News 12 that the news conferences about violence sound the same and that what the city needs is real solutions.
“We heard a lot of heartfelt pleas from the community about gun violence,” she said of citizens’ comments Tuesday. “There is nothing more heartbreaking and excruciating than hearing a mother tell you about her experience having to bury her child.
“It is something that happens far too often in our community. At this point, there have been over 60 murders in this community this year. There are too many families who feel the same way as this mother.
Fuller said people are asking for programs, outreach, recreation and resources for their community.
“While there are budget amendments for things in the future, right now we should be looking at innovative things like Violence Interruption. It’s a program that looks at violence like a health epidemic. It’s contagious. One violent act leads to another.
“We can’t just put this on the police or just on the parents without some way of combatting it.”
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