NEW ORLEANS — Before Edna Karr and Eleanor McMain tipped off Tuesday night, there was a moment of unity on the hardwood for a much different tipping point in New Orleans.
“It’s really depressing honestly because it’s sad to see your classmates or somebody you grew up with to go leave,” said Eleanor McMain senior Robert Johnson.
“I know a lot of people who have went to funerals back-to-back. You lost your brother on Tuesday, you just found out you lost your cousin last Thursday,” said Edna Karr senior Mya Butler.
The InspireNOLA Charter Schools combined playbooks, putting Cougars and Mustangs on the same team in a student led prayer and call to action for an end to youth violence and crime.
“Even when we do take all these Karr clothes off and McMain clothes off, we’re still the same people,” Butler said. “We still come from the same places.”
Hours before this prayer, the very reason for it. An SUV, with a woman and two kids inside was shot up near the intersection of Broad Street and Orleans Avenue. The woman was shot, the kids were not hurt. With increases in violent crimes, especially shootings, carjackings and murders, city leaders are on a mission.
“We are really laser focused on trying to figure out how we’re going to solve our crime problem,” District B councilmember Lesli Harris said.
Working with every element in the city’s criminal justice system, Harris knows that won’t happen overnight.
“It’s not only prevention, but it is providing opportunities to young people, to show young people there is a future in New Orleans and that there are opportunities beyond the criminal justice system,” Harris said.
According to numbers form the police department, there were 218 murders in New Orleans last year. One of them was 18-year-old Caleb Johnson, a senior at Edna Karr, killed in a triple shooting.
“He was a football player and I just saw him on the field. Stuff can happen that quick in this city,” said Edna Karr senior Tayelor Kees.
Johnson’s girlfriend, also a student, was shot but survived. Because violence isn’t just an adult problem, the teens want to be part of the solution.
“We need a connection not just between the youth, but between the adults and between the public officials,” Butler said.
“Youth are the future, we are the future and we want to see each other succeed,” Johnson said.
“We’re hoping this event keeps going, the idea of this event keeps going, between all ages, between all ethnicities,” Kees said.