NEW ORLEANS -- Every Sunday night the sounds of the Congo Square Preservation Society fill the air with the rhythmic spirit of their African ancestors.
But Friday around 9:15 a.m., the very benches where drummers play is where police said a 16-year-old girl was sitting when a man pointed a knife at her demanding she hand over her bike.
Jamilah Yejide Peters-Muhammad, better known as ‘Mama Jamailah’, is the co-founder of the preservation society and said it’s incidents like these that keep the group coming back to the space.
“We feel like this is a sacred place, and in feeling that it’s a sacred place we come here to drum and call on the spirits of our ancient ancestors to heal his space and keep it holy,” she explained.
For decades the group has been fighting to keep Congo Square clean and welcoming. Even in light of crime, like a carjacking that police said happened just outside of the park gates Saturday just after 4 a.m.
Investigators said as a man was parking his gray Nissan pickup truck when two men approached his passenger's side window. Police said one of the suspects pointed a gun at the man demanding his car keys. The two men then reportedly fled in the man’s truck.
“We really want this area to be a safer area, we want it to be safe. Our mere presence calls for safety,” said Jamilah.
These robberies were just two of seven robberies that happened across New Orleans over the weekend. Just before 6 p.m. Friday police said a man was robbed at gunpoint while backing his car out of his driveway in the 4800 block of Redwood St.
Four hours later, police said a woman was carjacked in the 2100 block of Short Street. Police said a woman was approached by a man wearing all black and a yellow bandanna covering his face. That’s when investigators said he held a gun to her head and told her to get out of her car.
Saturday there were two robberies, including one in the 2400 block of Bienville where a man and woman were reportedly robbed at gunpoint outside of their home. The suspect took the victim’s car keys, cell phones, and five dollars.
With the news of all of this crime, Mama Jamilah is hoping their drumming will heal more than just Congo Square.
“We have to be more respectful of one another, keep this area safe and prayerfully that will extend to other areas,” said Jamilah.