Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief
A Tale of Two Cities
New Orleans is an amazing city, known for its unique culture and lifestyle that is laid back and appreciative of her people regardless of their social standing. It is one of those places where hospitality and cordiality are the cornerstones of those who live in the Crescent City. Conversely, it is a city that is rife with crime and violence, but there are those from various walks of life who have come together, working towards putting a stop to the gun violence that’s taken so many lives.
A March For Peace
Joined by local elected officials, community and faith leaders, and over 70 mothers affected by gun violence, the family and friends of slain New Orleans teen Jamere Alfred took their fight for justice to the next level through the ‘Let Me Live’ Rally Against Gun Violence which took place on Saturday, June 5, at 10:00 a.m.
“With the ‘Let Me Live’ Rally Against Gun Violence, we wanted it to be a call to peace for the City of New Orleans, and asked all families who’ve had a loss of a loved one come out and join us in this march for peace,” says John Alfred, father of Jamere Alfred, a young man with a bright future ahead of him, who was slain in a drive-by shooting on Christmas Day in 2020, while going to Walgreens with his cousins.
The site of this tragedy is where on this rainy day, the rally began with a prayer and march from Walgreens, located at the intersection of Bullard and Lake Forest Blvd to Joe Brown Park (Shelter #3).
All Hands on Deck
Many came out to participate, lending their voices and resources in their fight for justice including: Louisiana Congressman Troy A. Carter, Orleans Parish District Attorney, Jason Williams, NOPD Chief of Police, Sean Ferguson and Bishop Lester Love along with other City leaders and the families of those who’ve lost loved ones to the senseless gun violence that plagues the City of New Orleans.
“All the leaders and others we spoke to were more than willing to take time out of their schedules to assist in this effort and bring the resources that we needed. This is a testament that people want to see an end to gun violence in our City. There’s no one way to get this problem fixed. Everybody has something to bring to the table. This march is a step in the right direction,” stated Alfred prior to the march, regarding the effort that was spearheaded by himself and Jamere’s mother LaRicha Alfred, who were co-parenting and providing a loving and nurturing environment for this young man to thrive.
Stop the Killing
The objective of the ‘Let Me Live’ Rally Against Gun Violence was to provide a platform for the community and law enforcement to work in concert to combat armed violence. With nearly 90% of murder victims in New Orleans being killed by firearms, according to a 2019 gun violence reduction plan released by Mayor Cantrell, it is imperative for the community and law enforcement to work together. Leveraging the month of June as Gun Violence Awareness Month, organizers of the ‘Let Me Live’ Rally hoped to bring visibility to Jamere Alfred’s case and the need for justice to other similar cases.
“Losing my only child, Jamere Alfred, on Christmas Day 2020 in New Orleans has been absolutely heart-wrenching,” says mother of Jamere, LaRicha Alfred. “June is Gun Violence Awareness Month and this Rally for Justice for Jamere and Justice for New Orleans will create a space for the community and law enforcement officers to put aside any differences they may have and work together to get criminals off of the streets and secure justice for all kids.” Over 70 mothers who have lost kids to gun violence agreed to participate in the rally.
Accountability and Working Toward Solutions
Since their son’s untimely death, John and LaRicha have been moved into action, centering on seeking solutions. “We have created the King Jamere M. Alfred Foundation, which supports band, football and scholarships. There’s another non-profit that I started called “Mothers For Justice,” says LaRicha, with passion and conviction for what’s become a calling and a mission for her.
John agrees they are a united front determined to help contribute to solutions to gun violence. “We didn’t think this would be our calling, but after the death of Jamere it was like we were thrust into a leadership position. It is therapeutic for us. By bringing people together, that gives hope to other people that if they said something, they would be heard, and bringing us together as one voice in the City of New Orleans.”
Many of the people involved in some of the crime and violence are young people. And John believes that there must be a holistic approach, but truly it must begin at home. “Parent accountability is important. This is key. Get involved and know what your child is doing,” says John, with both passion and compassion ringing in his voice. “I also believe just throwing them to the criminal justice system is not the only answer, but to provide help and resources to them before they choose crime, violence and the streets. Just be more aware of what your child is doing, because there is more things we all as parents can do.”
There is an old, well known African Proverb that states, “It Takes A Village to Raise A Child.” Today, perhaps the most African city in America needs to move toward this, if it is to become a greater city. “We can get closer to solutions by picking out things we all share collectively and stand together for change. If we all get on one accord we can make it work. This is our collective fight,” says LaRicha.
At the forefront of the rally, John was optimistic of its outcome, pledging, “This fight, it is a continuous fight. This rally is something that can bring us all together to create a network to help each other, not just the families that lost loved ones, but across the City. At one point we were communities, then we became hoods, but we would like to bring back the word village. Make them villages again. We can make the change that we are looking for, bringing our resources together to help our kids, because ultimately that’s what it is all about.”