BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Controversy surrounding a vigil for a missing pregnant teacher prompted organizers to cancel the event.
Early Thursday morning the city of Baton Rouge reached out to media outlets to discourage people from attending Thursday night's planned vigil for missing teacher Lyntell Washington. City officials said the activists who organized the vigil did not get the proper permits to hold an event in downtown Baton Rouge and there will be no police officers to direct traffic or provide security. The mayor's office said it is also concerned that organizers did not contact the family about the vigil.
Vigil organizers originally planned to gather at the levee near the River Center at 6:30 p.m.
Keon Preston and Elissa Boudreaux, organizers of the event, said they were shocked to hear Mayor Kip Holden urging people not to show up. The mayor isn't necessarily telling people not to show up, but he is saying Preston and Boudreaux have not followed procedures to hold an event like this that would warrant the use of city resources.
Because they haven't gotten the proper permits, the city announced it would not disperse police officers or EMS to be on standby, which was worrisome to the mayor, because he, of course, doesn't want to see things get out of control or out of hand.
"It's a hurt day in Baton Rouge; it's a very hurt day," said Elissa Boudreaux with X-Posed Domestic Violence Organization. "Louisiana is ranked like number four in domestic violence. Why wouldn't we rally and pray for her? Why wouldn't we pray for her family? Why wouldn't we come out and support the anti-domestic movement or the anti-violence movement?"
Holden said he is not sending any city resources out to the vigil. Boudreaux and Preston said it is still a go and they have secured a law enforcement presence to be there.
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Authorities began search efforts Friday for the missing woman who was once named "Teacher of the Year" and currently teaches at Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy. Crews were deployed in the air, on land, and in the water for much of the day Friday, searching five key areas across south Louisiana, including Baker, Zachary, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, and Ramah. The multi-agency search was temporarily suspended at nightfall on Friday.
Washington was reported missing Thursday morning after her 3-year-old daughter was found by a Good Samaritan alone near her vehicle in Baton Rouge. Blood was found inside the vehicle.