Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Love, Loss and Life: NOLA for Life’s plea to end the cycle of violence

15th July 2013   ·   0 Comments

On Sunday June 7, I sat with a group of mothers who understand all too well the devastating impact of violence in our community. Each mother has lost at least one child on the streets of New Orleans. As they told me their stories and shared their photographs, it was vividly clear that their pain runs just as deep as the day their children were taken.

We brought these brave mothers together for the Love, Loss and Life prayer vigil because we understand that the prayers and voices of mothers are one of the keys to ending the cycle of violence on the streets. Through these ongoing conversations and our comprehensive murder reduction strategy NOLA FOR LIFE, we are committed to finding the answers.

In my opinion, there should be national outrage about the thousands of young people being slaughtered on the streets of our cities. In New Orleans, 85 percent of the murder victims are young African-American men, 85 to 90 percent of the perpetrators are young African-Ameri­can men and 88 percent of them know each other. A whole generation of Black men has lost their way or has been left behind. Every day in many cities across the country, these promising lives are being lost to violence with little to no outcry. The tolerance of violence and death on our streets must stop.

In New Orleans, we understand that it will take a relentless, focused and coordinated approach to transform the culture of violence to a culture that celebrates life. NOLA FOR LIFE sets out five major goals: Stop the Shooting, Invest in Prevention, Promote Jobs and Opportunity, Improve the Police Department and Get the Community Involved to Rebuild Neighborhoods.

We are addressing the city’s historically-high murder rate through multiple NOLA FOR LIFE initiatives including, Group Violence Reduction Strategy and the Multi-Agency Gang Unit. So far, the results are promising. New Orleans has had the fewest murders in the first six months of the year since 1985. After intensive investigations by the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s of­fice and federal law enforcement have obtained indictments against four violent gangs and more are on the way. We are fighting back to protect our streets and make every person in New Orleans feel safe.

We also are partnering with community groups, churches, businesses and citizens who are dedicated to restoring hope and structure within our communities. Group Violence Reduction Strategy also sends the message to members of violent groups and gangs that help is available to those want it. The NOLA FOR LIFE Fund, administered by the Greater New Orleans Foun­dation, supports local non-profits who have committed to provide services to the young men who are most vulnerable. During NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Bas­ket­ball, thousands of young men participate in recreational activities and have access to resources that give them an alternative to the streets. And during NOLA FOR LIFE Days, we are rolling up our sleeves with residents and volunteers in areas that have historically been plagued with crime to revitalize parks and neighborhoods.

Today, New Orleans is standing together to show young men in our community a new possibility. Through NOLA FOR LIFE, we are declaring that it is no longer acceptable for young African-American men to be dying on the streets of our city, nor is it okay in communities across America. While we are not all at fault, it is everyone’s responsibility to help change this culture of violence. We must commit to doing everything in our power to making New Orleans what we know she can be.

The Honorable Mitch Landrieu
Mayor
City of New Orleans

This article originally published in the July 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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