SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Representatives from Shreveport Police and Fire Departments, as well as city leaders listened for hours to the concerns of citizens during a Stop the Violence Forum held at Independence Stadium’s Skybox.
Many voicing frustration with violent crimes being committed by teens and young adults.
“A lot of these kids have no hope,” said Rev. Asriel McLain, one of the nearly 30 people who spoke at the meeting. “We’re going to have to break the cycle. Not when they’re big. But when they pint-sized or cub sized.”
Today’s forum was city leaders’ follow up attempt to address the violence in the city and find solutions.
On May 5th, a news conference called by city leaders to talk about addressing gun violence in the city was meant to be about bringing members of the community together to find a solution, but was met with criticism that it was more talk and not enough action.
Several people voiced those same concerns on Tuesday, saying the forum is an echo chamber because those committing the crimes aren’t listening.
“We sit in these safe spots. We sit up here and we share what we think about this and this,” said Shreveport resident Wade Lovelace. “Let’s go into the community and actually touch the people because I don’t see a shooter or a killer in here. We’re not talking to the right people.”
Shreveport’s Chief Administrative Officer Henry Whitehorn says the issue resonates with him.
“There’s a lot of talk about going into the streets and dealing with the folks that’s out in the streets and that’s actually pulling the triggers. Those people were not here today,” said Whitehorn. “So we’ve got to engage our young people.”
Others addressed systemic issues which cause crime. Problems like drugs, gangs, lack of involved parents and teen pregnancy.
“This problem hadn’t since started yesterday. Or didn’t start a year ago,” said Shreveport resident Dale Walker. “It’s centuries in the making.”
“So much of what has been said today are some of the solutions. I’ve heard more about the problems,” said Irma Rogers, MLK Community Development Corporation President.
Shreveport’s Police Chief Ben Raymond says he was pleased to hear the ideas presented and he believes a pooling of community resources can help. Now begins the process of how they’ll be implemented.
“I think we really need to get behind one or two or three key efforts,” said Raymond. “Where it sounds like right now we’re doing 20 different things, but we can’t all come together on 20 different things.”
According to the Shreveport Fire Department, many of the ideas presented today will now go to steering committees. Those committees will make recommendations to the city on crime prevention.
Tuesday’s forum was moderated by the Rev. Roosevelt Seaberry.