PHOTOS: "Let Me Live" - New Orleanians Gather for Peace Up, Guns Down Rally
The Peace Up, Guns Down Rally brought together children, families, churches, and social justice groups from across New Orleans
The New Orleans Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) brought together groups from across the city on Saturday for the Peace Up, Guns Down Rally in New Orleans. The rally and subsequent second line parade were held in solidarity with March For Our Lives events across the country.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell created the OGVP in April of 2021, in the hopes of finding a way to end generations of violence in the city. According to OGVP statistics, New Orleans has been ranked among the top five deadliest cities in the US since 1986.
The rally marked an end to a particularly violent week in the city. Ten people were murdered in the stretch from Monday, Jun 6 to Friday, June 10. There have been more than 133 murders in the city so far this year.
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“In the last 40 years, we average over 150 murders every year,” said Patrick Young, Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. “We can’t continue to work in silos as individuals,” Young said, referencing the African proverb, “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.”
To make a change in these statistics, Pastor Jonathan Everett called for more consistency among residents in asking for and practicing peaceful behavior.
“We have to be more consistent,” said Everett. “That love that we drop every now and then, that peace that we desire every now and then… Peace is not a product of just prayer. Peace is also a product of practice.”
“We don’t have a choice,” said Rep. Royce Duplessis, referring to the difficult work of trying to step gun violence in New Orleans and across the country. Duplessis hopes to take over Karen Carter Peterson’s senate seat.
“We don’t have a choice. So no matter how difficult it might seem, no matter how painful it might be, we don’t have a choice. Because these children are depending on us. These children need us. And we know we can do better. We know we can do better.”
Over the past year, the number of child victims of gun violence in New Orleans has risen. In the first five months of 2022, 13 children were shot and killed - compared to 15 in all of 2021.
One of the responsibilities of the OGVP is to study the effectiveness of various interventions. They also reach out to victims of gun violence in order to prevent retaliatory violence whenever possible.
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