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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 110

The Walls Project is inviting you and all the members of the OneRouge Coalitions to join us for a Community Networking Lunch Friday 6/24 at Noon at the River Center Library (see more info below). This will be a great opportunity to meet your fellow change agents and continue building relationships to do the good work in our city through the summer and years to come. No admission fee, open to all and stick around from 1-2pm to learn how to engage in OneRouge and with the Walls programs.

Enlight! Ignite! Unite!

Violence: Causes and Cures



Tekoah Boatner - Youth Oasis - Executive Director

We have housing services for youth 18-24

Starting diversion services later this year

There are so many pipelines that lead to us. One is schools, another is juvenile justice. We offer support and resources. No family who is actually trying is going to give up parental rights just so their child has something to do.

Khalid Hudson - Together Baton Rouge

The last couple years have been tough regarding public safety in Baton Rouge. Some of our services have been directly impacted. I’ve buried more young people than I have people from COVID deaths. Drug use is going up. Overdoses are going up and issues of domestic violence. We started to develop a strategy about how we might organize around public safety. Two months ago we launched a listening campaign. We engaged Black, white, hispanic. We do listening sessions to search for leaders. To search for people who have a connection to a thing. Some of the stories we’ve heard were the ones from youth. We’ve heard stories about people losing loved ones from drug overdoses. Now that we’ve done this process to listen to people, next weekend on June 25, we are having a citywide gathering about public safety. There will be three parts of the assembly. There’s an untapped partner in the community that hasn’t been engaged and that’s the religious congregations to get them involved for providing the solutions. A great model is the Gardere initiative. It’s in a very particular area where they brought together various members of the community and organized around that area. Our strategy is to do something very similar in the entire city. The assembly will introduce that, but first we will come together and then ask for action from the assembly.

Angelle Bradford - Chapter leader for Moms Demand Action

We have groups all over Louisiana. All we focus on is the intersections and root causes of gun violence. We spend a lot of our energy around policy and legislative session. That takes up about half of our year, but outside of that we are part of the EBR Gun Violence Steering committee. We’re elevating the organizations that have been doing the work for a long time. We have built out our city gun violence program. We’re pushing local officials to take action and put their money where their mouth is. Currently we’re pressing on Mayor Broome to put excess funding around solutions that will make people’s lives full of integrity and dignity. It’s been a very wild past couple years but we have some local wins, but we know we have to keep pressing.

Khalilah Collins - Activist

I’m not attached to one organization or one state. I live in New Orleans and in Kentucky. My work was centered around mental health for black boys until COVID hit and then funding and priorities changed. Then I went to my hometown to support the work happening there due to the death of Briona Taylor. Currently I’m working with Louisville on a police deflection project. We just implemented that in the last two months. I’ve been part of conversations in New Orleans in that same vein. Really thinking through and reimagining public safety. REally getting to the root causes of violence as a whole and it’s about people needing access to basic needs and resources. Thinking about all those things and how they turn into violence. Also knowing about white supremacy and state sanctioned violence.


Do you have to be a mom to participate?

No. You just have to be a human being who cares.

What is one thing each one of us can do to help address the violence from our perspectives?

Angelle Bradford - In our country there’s a temptation to walk around the conversation about guns. When it’s legislative session the one thing we can do is show up. YOu have to be willing to be uncomfortable to push people to make investments. Being willing to engage in the metro council process. We are seeing federal investments to hurry up and arrest people. That’s happening faster than solution based responses. Not turning away from this moment.

Khalilah Collins - We have to have a real conversation about the root causes. We think we can police our way out of violence and we can’t. People have needs that are not being met. That turns into the violence outcome. Until we have a real conversation about what people are experiencing, you’re going to continue to see that. Everything comes in cycles and waves. You’re going to see an uptick in racial profiling and suicide. We’re not talking about what people are experiencing. What is the impact on our mental health from the pandemic? Are we equipped to have the coping skills. We start lashing out.

Khalid Hudson - when you have a hugly traumatic experience like COVID, hurricane katrina, you see a rise in all of the violence issues. In Baton Rouge you see drastic increases. Any time people are experiencing trauma, these community based institutions step in. We have to get institutions back to full capacity.

Tekoh Boatner - Respond with curiosity, instead of with our normal responses. All of these solutions are being offered without recognition of the harm to the institutions. The community still has not felt heard. There needs to be institutional acknowledgement of harm. We don’t make any room in our social services when the person is in a safe place and is able to process and heal. The process of healing is not comfortable or safe at all. You need to have people who are interested in the result. All of that starts with curiosity. Nonprofits have to know that they are part of the process.

Angella Bradford - I recognize that it has taken so long to gain trust of the community. We’re ready to deliver on things. We all as more privileged folks need to show up.

Manny Patole - As a person who grew up in New York in the 80s, I think one of the things here to observe is creating opportunities - we have to look at alternatives for people to do with their time. There’s also something about the message of hope. It can get better. It is a collective effort. You can show examples from other places.

People/Structures in a state of desperation are always going to choose the path of least resistance. And that path is often not a solution but a coping mechanism. We have to make effective solutions that path of least resistance. Crime drops when people's basic needs are met. Wealth inequality is driving people to desperate choices. Abysmal mental health structures lead people to terrible choices. Where does the money need to go to actually intervene?

Tekoah Boatner - The short answer is to the people. With youth we have to teach people how to connect and redefine what society looks like for people who have been disenfranchised. We all are part of a social contract that we did not sign up for. There’s the part of the brain that has the information to make the decision and then there’s the part that drives the decision. When you are not feeling confident that you are supported, then you’re using fight, flight or freeze. We do an unbelievable amount of funding braiding.

Jennifer Carwile - Together Baton Rouge - There was one meeting we had with a lot of young people. One of the teens talked about how my parents had me when they were 16 and I have a little buddy who says all I know is food service, I don’t know anything else. Given resources people will in some ways know what to do with it, but if you’re in a place with generational poverty and don’t know how to get out of a poverty mindset, there’s a lot of education that needs to go on and support services. And it’s not quick. I’ve been with my little buddy for 10 years and it’s taken 10 years to get her to a place of thinking that she wants a bank account. When we look at society and our city, we want numbers and data and quick, but it’s not quick. When folks have had generations of scrambling to survive, it’s not intuitive. I don’t think, my little buddies mom, if I gave her $50,000 a year, I think she would eventually figure it out, but I don’t know how long it would take.

Casey Phillips - Sometimes you feel like people who want to fund programs and want to come up, they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what the need is.

Khalid Hudson - We’ve all heard that power corrupts, but powerless also corrupts. When people are desperate, that has a corrupting nature to it. We’ve all heard suicide by cop. I started to think about the young people that are engaging in these acts, what place do they have to be in that they don’t see the value in living. We’re in extreme situations for the folks that are most impacted by what is going on. We have to create an infrastructure over people to gain control over their own lives. There has to be systematic things put in place to support the formation and development of people. People are not being developed in a way that they see hope in their own lives.

Angella Bradford - The framing around violence is the most important first step. We have to keep elevating that people with mental health issues are more of a harm to themselves than someone else. How we talk about violence is important. Making sure money does not go to the things that do not work. I generally hate it when federal packages go through because you spend so much time figuring out where the money goes, but it just ends with arrests. Fortify the moms. When we talk to the parents and the grandparents, they have no where to take their children other than the prisons. How do we fortify the parents? It’s exhausting to be the parents of these youths. How do we humanize these people as more than just victims of crime?

Khalid Hudson - I’m a hip hop head, but one thing I do recognize is that the reality is that culture is a beautiful thing but there is a component of popular culture that is not authentic from the culture. There’s a whole system that’s profiting off Black faces on particular types of music that’s causing harm in our community. There was a whole system that put a lot of money into a type of music that’s been disruptive in our community.

Khalilah Collins - I think we’re all saying the same thing. One thing she talked about is innovation. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and expect different results. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to think critically about what we’re doing. I was surprised that two years ago we didn't have money for everything and now all the sudden we have money for everything. We keep throwing money to the same mental health agencies, big nonprofits, when we know who is on the ground. We don’t throw them the money. So we have to change who makes those decisions on where those resources go. We have to figure out how to change that piece. We have to change the decision makers. We need people who are not afraid to do their job.

Tekoah Boatner - For the youth perspective, this is going to triple down to our kids. They are trying their best to find a path to navigate. It’s amazing to hear all the youth we’ve been able to house, the one common thread is that they are tired. They are getting squeezed on all fronts. We’re not as alarmed as we should be. The larger the trauma, the more hope people are expecting to see and we have to make space for incremental change.

-We have about 29 youth on our waiting list for shelter. We do not have the capacity. My ask is if you know of anyone willing to donate, but if you know of any realtors who have multifamily properties that they are willing to rent to us.

What does the drop in center need to become a reality?

Tekoah Boatner - We need two family properties so I can move the remaining youth out of where they are. Once I can find those homes, I can officially open the drop in center. We are shooting for july.

Where are all these guns coming from?

Laramie Griffin Evolve - People are getting approved to make guns themselves. They order the parts online. You can go to a dealer and you can make them yourselves. They are called ghost guns. You can make and order them however you want.

Angela Bradford - In Louisiana, most crimes are committed from handguns they’ve gotten from various avenues. Baton Rouge requires more investigation. The ATF is looking into regulating ghost guns.

Tekoah Boatner - Let’s use nextdoor for good. We have neighborhood clean up crews. Why not organize a network of safe houses. Organizers come up with a community sticker or flag. Would you be willing to open your doors around this time for this time and then through that you can come and do that. Building people into the solution. Bringing your neighbors in. You ask. Do a focus survey. What do you need? Let’s build solutions around what you need. With the drop in center, come. This is reparations, not asking for people who have been harmed for payment of any kind.

Khalilah Collins - We typically tell people what they need instead of what they really need. We typically don’t ask young people what they need. They may not be able to articulate what they need. Stop giving and doing what we have and start addressing what people need.

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