SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A news conference called by city leaders Wednesday to talk about addressing gun violence was meant to be about bringing members of the community together to find a solution was met with criticism that the latest response is just more talk and still not enough action.
There have been at least 32 homicides reported in Shreveport as of Wednesday, most of them involving guns. That is nearly twice as many homicides as were reported by this time last year, when there were 15 homicides reported in the city through May 2. Three of those homicides came in five separate shootings in the 24 hours since the news conference was announced Tuesday. Several others were wounded – at least two of them critically.
“If we as a community think that it is okay to be firing off guns in the proximity of our children and future we have a serious, serious problem. We don’t have a future without our children,” Shreveport Mayor Perkins said Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to Perkins and members of the Shreveport City Council, the chiefs and other members of the city’s police and fire departments and community leaders joined in the call to “form a coalition of elected leaders, members of the business community, faith-based organizations and other stakeholder groups to find solutions to help ensure Shreveport is a safe place to work and live.”
The leaders are asking for input from the community in an “action meeting” set for 10 a.m. on May 18 in the Skybox at Independence Stadium. But not everyone involved in Wednesday’s news conference is convinced this latest response is enough.
“We have had so many press conferences until I am just absolutely sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Dist. A city councilor Tabatha Taylor. “What message do we send? What message do I give a hurting mother or father? Seven and nine-year-olds shot and can’t even sleep in their beds.”
It was a criticism echoed by community activist Breka Peoples during the news conference, interrupting Dist. G councilor Jerry Bowman with a bullhorn at one point.
“What solutions did they come up with?” Peoples asked after the news conference ended. “All these town halls and no solutions. No solutions. We don’t have any solutions. All the public officials wanna do is have photo ops.”