Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief
New Orleans: A Tale of Two Cities
New Orleans is a City where neighborhoods, family and a zest for life exists that is like no other. It is a place where people flock to experience the joy of living that is life in this amazing City. But beneath this veneer, lies a City where crime and violence are a part of everyday life in New Orleans. Something that leaves families having to put the pieces together when they lose a loved one. In the City it is something that happens too often.
Recently, the shooting death of 14-year-old Jamere Alfred on Christmas Day in New Orleans East while he took a ride with his two cousins to Walgreens on Lake Forest and Bullard Boulevards. Who would imagine that a quick run to Walgreens would turn tragic when someone opened fire on the three cousins with Jamere being shot twice and losing his life.
This tragedy concerning a young man who was full of innocence, hope, optimism, ambition and was part of a loving supportive family have become a watershed moment for a City plagued by gun violence.
A Parents Worse Nightmare…
It was Christmas and young Jamere Alfred was like many his age; simply enjoying the day with his family. Recounting the time that led up to the moment that would change their lives Jamere’s parents LaRicha and John Alfred, who are successfully co-parenting are still grieving but are people of faith who are resilient in the face of this tragedy that took the life of their son.
“Christmas Day was awesome a very blessed day; he got everything he wanted. He was by family; this was somewhere he’s been going since he was a baby. His dad dropped him off Christmas Eve, he was there Christmas morning. He called his dad and him and I facetimed with him. I was out of town and got a phone call after 10 that night saying there was an accident. I thought it was a car accident at first. When I got the call, I sent Jamere’s aunt to the Walgreens first because she lived around the corner. Then, I called his dad and had him go out there because something happened, but we didn’t know what. His dad was told he had to go to UMC Hospital and when he got there, he found out that Jamere was shot. He called me back and at first we just thought that it was something minor maybe a graze wound, shot in the leg, we were telling ourselves in our mind and the night just started trickling down and the news came that it was fatal,” says LaRicha Alfred.
A City sends Condolences and Support to the Family of Jamere Alfred
Immediately, people from around the City, was shocked that an innocent kid with a bright future would be gunned down on Christmas Day. In the coming days people would hear the name Jamere Alfred on newscasts as well as the story trending on social media.
Condolences came from many; including New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Speaking of Jamere and the qualities that made him a special young man full of promise his dad says beaming with pride, but visibly distraught as his voice sometimes cracking, remembers Jamere.
“He was the peacemaker, he was the inquisitive kid, he was the teacher when the teacher left the room, Jamere was the teacher when the teacher was inside the room. He had a real desire for knowledge because he always had many questions. And if he thought your question was not complete or wrong, he was on Google trying to find the right answer.”
Continuing John speaks proudly of his son about who he was and was aspiring to become…
“He was a teammate, he was a band member, he was loyal. Play Station 4, football that was him. He was attending Martin Behrman as an 8th Grader and had a desire to go to St. Augustine was his next step. After that, he was debating because he wanted to go to Morehouse, but they don’t have a Division 1 football team and he was trying to figure out how to start a Division 1 football team at Morehouse,” he says with a laugh reminiscing of the time spent with his son dreaming about what his future could be.
“From there he wanted to be in the NFL, and while he was short, I would encourage him that no goal was unobtainable. That he could do or be whatever he wanted to be and that the sky was the limit for him, and he would always be supported by myself and his mother. He always said he would make it to the NFL and retire me and his mother. That was Jamere.”
Across the City people are reaching out to support this family in their time of need. The Alfred’s have spoken to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who assured them that she would not let this case be one that will not be unsolved and that she will do everything within her power to help get justice for Jamere.
Matthew 19:26…With God All Things Are Possible
John and LaRicha Alfred are people that live a life where God is at the center and speak of how this is something that is helping them cope during these trying times for them. Speaking of this they say, “Faith, Grace and Prayer.”
Continuing John says, “We surround ourselves with faith-based people. They won’t allow us to stop praying. When you have a situation when you are facing adversity; the first thing you do is look at it as a huge problem, and you try to see are you qualified to face this challenge. As parents we didn’t get the chance to see were, we qualified to face this challenge the situation told us we have to face it. We are talking to the detectives daily asking are there any updates, and we continue praying and we are getting through it the best way we can and believe we will be ok because the foundation of our lives are faith based.”
The Impact of Crime and Violence in New Orleans on Families
When we think of crime and violence many say it is something that happens, but not to you. To understand the impact and that something must be done to stop crime and violence in New Orleans, so that parents like John and LaRicha Alfred or for that matter the many thousands who have been killed senselessly over the years in the City of New Orleans.
“We did not have the opportunity to turn this particular challenge down. It came to our front door. It was our child, and it hurts,” says John as his voice trembles while displaying strength and courage. “Neither one of us have faced the challenge of losing a loved one this close.”
LaRicha chimes in seemingly trying to make sense of what happened to her son Jamere and how she is coping. “Your child was going to the store with family and was murdered. We want Justice for Jamere, you are talking about a 14-year-old who was murdered. He looked like a baby. He was my only child, so at night I am sleeping with his pillows and his jerseys. It’s been like something’s been ripped out of me.”
John Alfred is using this moment as a call to action to stop the crime and violence in New Orleans.
“We understand the impact of crime in New Orleans, but now we feel like we’ve been given the challenge and opportunity to do what we can to stop it. My overall goal it would be that that the murder of Jamere would be the pivotal moment when the City of New Orleans changes where aunts, uncles, and people across the City get together and stand against crime. It is too widespread and senseless. I want everybody to come together. And take a turn that this is not just another case and that any parent that’s lost a kid, your kid is not a number.”
Towards Finding Peace and Solutions to Gun Violence in New Orleans
John Alfred speaking of his son says that he would like his son’s legacy to be one of peace.
“His life symbolized peace, he literally wanted world peace. He would ask why there is poverty? We don’t have to live in a world of violence and accept the fact that killings are happening in the City of New Orleans.”
Making a plea for justice for his son Jamere, John Alfred says…
“We want justice for Jamere and the shooter to come forward and allow the justice system to do what it is set up to do. Also, in the City of New Orleans we must work to find a way to give an outlet to kids that are broken. We are in the beginning stages of starting a foundation in Jamere’s honor and thought what would be the focus and we thought immediately the first thing was to help kids in the City to get to understand the way they are living; they don’t have to. That there are other ways to live your life… and that life is beautiful. We want to get the message out you don’t have to live like that. Gun violence is senseless, and it has to stop.”
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