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A news conference was held Friday to release more details about the recent violent activities that broke out during Earth Day festivities in downtown Baton Rouge on April 17 and to figure out ways to prevent them from happening again.
Mayor Kip Holden, Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., District Attorney Hillar Moore and several church leaders were in attendance.
The overall theme of the press conference was to enforce a positive message of unity between city officials and local pastors. It's about a group of people who have come together and brought people together to discuss common concerns and out of those concerns will come progress.
"This is not an us against them press conference," said Mayor Kipp Holden. "We are not going to draw division lines in the parish. The word unity is still alive and well. We are united on a road moving forward to ensure we are one Baton Rouge."
Dabadie has confirmed there were a multiple fights and even gunshots at the festival, which was attended by thousands. He added the violent incidents seem to be a trend that has occurred at the festival over recent years.
"We've had several instances over the past 3 years of fights happening in the afternoon on Earth Day," said Chief Dababie. "It's an issue we're working to fix."
A compilation video of the many fights that occurred were posted online. Officials believe the years of violence and the recordings are not a coincidence.
GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Click here to view that video
"Adults are encouraging young kids to come down and fight and posting those videos online," said District Attorney Hillar Moore. "We'd like for the public listening to this to let us know who it is who is encouraging this type of behavior to our young kids and to call Crime Stoppers."
One of the videos within the compilation was highlighted to the media. It shows multiple Baton Rouge police officers arresting a young man. The 16-year-old boy is on the ground being restrained by two officers. One officer is then seen punching him in the head. The teen was arrested and booked into the juvenile detention center on charges of battery on an officer and resisting a police officer with force or violence.
The incident involving the battery of an officer was not shown in the video.
"There were a lot of concerns and calls," said Dabadie Jr., Baton Rouge Police Department, said. "The Baton Rouge Police Department remains committed to due process of everyone involved in the incidents."
A 22-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation, officials announced. Dabadie has placed Sgt. Todd Bourgoyne on administrative leave in connection with a possibly questionable arrest that was captured on video.
Officials at today's press conference stuck to a common theme, that this is not about race. But one local pastor fears that it could turn into exactly that.
"If that kids who has been charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest violently, is charged, convicted and sentenced while this police officer is obviously brutalizing this kid on video, nothing happens to him, then it becomes an issue," says Rev. Reginald Pitcher.