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Grieving families to hold rally against violence in New Orleans

“Grief, the pain it’s going to always be, but we have to keep pushing, and we also have to be there for other parents."

NEW ORLEANS — As the City of New Orleans grapples with a sharp increase in shootings and homicides, the mother of a murdered teenager is organizing a rally against gun violence. 

The so-called “Let Me Live Rally” will take place Saturday morning. It’ll feature a march that begins at the Walgreen’s Pharmacy near the corner of Bullard and Lake Forest Blvd. in New Orleans East. That’s the site of where Laricha Rousell’s 14-year-old son Ja’Mere Alfred was murdered on Christmas Day, 2020. His case is unsolved, leaving Rousell’s life unsettled.

Credit: wwltv
Ja’Mere Alfred

“Grief, the pain it’s going to always be, but we have to keep pushing, and we also have to be there for other parents,” Rousell said.

Other parents were at her side on Friday.

“I’m the mother of Kaylan Ward. She was the 16-year-old found on the interstate on Bullard six years ago today,” Kenisha Martin said.

Kaylan Ward,16, who mysteriously died on I-10E.

The cruel and continuing nature of crime in New Orleans has created a sisterhood of sorrow. Lakecha Shedrick’s son, Gregory Alexander, was killed Christmas Eve, 2019. Shedrick said unless there’s drastic change to the gun violence in New Orleans, more families will understand the depth of their loss.

“I’m fully emotional today on why we are destroying our culture. Why are we destroying our fathers, our sons, our brothers, our daughters?” Shedrick said.

To take on the ongoing violence, the NOPD launched operation “Golden Eagle” earlier this week. The new operation will place state police on certain patrols along with New Orleans police. 

At a news conference last week detailing the operation, police superintendent Shaun Ferguson said the NOPD/LSP patrols will take place where violent crime happens. He didn’t reveal how many state troopers will be involved in the operation. 

Keishia Deverney’s son Devin Espadron was shot to death in November of 2019. A suspect surrendered to police in that case last year. Deverney said police alone will not stop the surge in crime and violence in New Orleans.

Credit: Element Beverage
Devin Espadron

“I think the youth need more resources before it gets to the point where they’re taking their actions or taking their anger out on one another, to kill one another,” Deverney said.

“We need to start in the homes. Parents need to be accountable for their kids, know where your kids are, know who your kids are with,” Kenisha Martin said.

On Saturday, Laricha Rousell will march from the Walgreen’s Pharmacy to Joe Brown Park. She’ll do so with the belief that someday, there will be justice for her son.

“I have faith, that trumps hope,” Alfred said.

When she makes that march, she will not be alone. Organizers say Chief Shaun Ferguson and Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams are scheduled to be at Saturday’s event. It starts at 10 a.m. at the corner Bullard and Lake Forest Boulevard in New Orleans east.

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