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Promises for a new and less violent New Orleans

26th September 2011   ·   0 Comments

By L. Kasimu Harris
Contributing Writer

Last Saturday, 17 local business owners made pledges to New Orleans youth during the Saving Our Sons summit, at the UNO Lakefront Arena. They took the stage toward the end of the program, but their promises aspire to begin a new and less violent New Orleans.

“This is where you should be in a few years,” Justin T. Augustine III, Vice President, Veolia TransDev, urged the youth in the audience.

The program was a part of the campaign by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to eradicate the immense crime in the city. Landrieu’s speech climbed up and down the proverbial ladder of abstraction: He spoke about talking about a nine-year-old boy killed on Mother’s Day 1994 after a picnic contrasted against the blot of 4,000 people killed during the last 16 years in New Orleans and said each of the those murders took a piece of everyone.[ad#NOLA City Council RFQ]

“We have become numb and this can’t be apart of our daily lives,” Landrieu said adding that residents must come together again, just as they did during other adverse events like hurricane an oil spills. “This situation is just as important.”

Peter Davis, 25, a local educator and a product of New Orleans Public Schools and like most residents of the city, has too long been exposed to violence.

“It was needed because I felt it was time for the city’s leadership to take a formal stance on the violence,” Davis said. He added that it was a step toward formal change regarding strategic planning on the leaders’ behalf. “It was good for so many businesses to make a personal investment,” Davis said.

Davis added that business pledges were important in building community capacity in the spirit of taking a village to raise a child. Community capacity is pooling all the resources together to solve a problem for various points of views. “It shows that the businesses are at least interested in the problem.”

Davis said he expected to see more people in attendance and he’s been to similar events that were good in the moment, but lacked follow-up.

“I think it was great as long as something comes out of it,” Davis said.

Landrieu said the city is allotting 250,000 dollars in seed money to institute a cease-fire, with retaliation killings, where the Depart­ment of Justice reported that in 80 percent of the murders, the victims and the killer knew each other. He also announced plans to eliminate blighted properties with ex-offenders and that conflict resolution skills will be taught in school. “The most powerful voice against crime is the young people,” he said.

In addition to the speeches, the program featured several performers and video presentations. Trumpeter Shamarr Allen dedicated his music to the lives lost and the O.P. Walker High School Gospel Choir performed “I Need You To Survive,” and those lyrics were repeated several times by various speakers. “Shell Shocked,” a documentary about those most affected the deaths, was previewed. And Troy “Trombone Shorty” And­rews, a local musician of international fame, spoke about the violent deaths of some of his family members and his Horns in Schools program.

The program was about togetherness for the future and protecting the youth.

Landrieu, whose language fluctuated between a formal speech and a neighborly conversation, depending of the point he was making, said: “It ain’t gonna be easy, but we must do what’s difficult to do what’s right.”

This article was originally published in the September 26, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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