“Protesting is our most powerful weapon against the atrocities of our day,” said the Rev. Errol Domingue, pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church. “Things will not change unless we (the community) use our prophetic voice to bring about action.”
For Domingue and his congregation, “action” meant holding a gun buyback program, a neighborhood march, and a community-wide rally against violence in the Eden Park community where more than 100 people, including officers with the East Baton Rouge BRAVE program, participated throughout February.
The church sits mid-city Baton Rouge in the 70802 zip code where neighborhoods are riddled with mostly violent crimes.
“Today is a new day and the violence has to stop,” said Jane Walker, Elm Grove Baptist Church rally organizer. “I’m for what is right. If protesting is needed to get the point across, I’m for it,” she said.
Many of the violent crimes in the area are due to acts of senseless killings, participants said.
Community activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed and members of the Nation of Islam spoke to the crowd along with BRAVE officers. Reed encouraged other churches in the community to rally against violence while BRAVE officials said to also focus on broadening the discussion of violence into homes.
A crowd of about 60 marchers took to North 38th street to protest and make a bold statement against violence in their community. The weather appeared gloomy but it didn’t affect the rally. Baton Rouge City Police assisted with escorting the protestors which included toddlers and senior citizens to the park.
Members of Jeremy Costley’s family were present along with family members of Jermaine Jackson. Both were victims of gun violence and no one has been identified as the shooter in both cases.
“When standing against the wrong thing we are being leaders and maybe people will start following behind the right people to change the bad things that are happening in our communities,” said Armani Pitts, relative of Jeremy Costley.
Harold Melvin and the Blue Note’s “ Wake up Everybody” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” played during the intermission portions of the rally.
“It is very disappointing to hear on the daily news that someone has perished due to a bullet and no one has been arrested for the crime,” said Keisha Moore, organizer and emcee of the rally. “I remember when people settled their differences with words or even fists, not guns or a ‘shoot and run’ move. Families are now left with a disappointment, unanswered questions, and hurt,” said Moore.
By Billy Washington