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Grieving mothers lead community outreach in city’s effort to stop killings

Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:15 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A group of mothers whose sons were shot and killed is leading Baton Rouge’s charge to reduce violence.

The District Attorney’s office is investigating 17 homicides that occurred during January. In total, 19 people were stabbed or shot to death in East Baton Rouge Parish during 2021′s first month.

“When you lose your child, it’s a different impact on your life,” Elizabeth Robinson said. Her son, Louis, was shot and killed in May 2018. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s going to be alright.’ No, it’s not. It’s never going to change. You carry that pain with you for life.”

Robinson and others helped to found the Baton Rouge chapter of C.H.A.N.G.E. This month, she and other grieving mothers began knocking on doors in Baton Rouge’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

They offer free gun locks to residents who want to take them, and advice or testimony to residents who want to hear them.

“I wouldn’t want another to go through what I went through,” Melissa Baise said. Her son, Harold, died in Port Allen in 2018. “When I tell you, I cry so many days and nights about my child.”

The group is asking for help as they canvass neighborhoods, hoping others will join their cause. Contact them at (225) 267-7252, or email ChangeBR225@gmail.com to get involved.

RELATED: First month of 2021 sees historically high number of homicides in EBR parish, few arrests

The mayor-president, 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge, and other community leaders touted the mothers’ work in a press conference Tuesday. One attendee noted, though, that the people who need to hear the mothers’ counsel most aren’t apt to attend community meetings.

“I’m looking around, and there’s nobody young like me sitting in here getting this message from these women,” 28-year-old Darius Crockett said. “I live here, so I’m asking what do I got to do to get my own hundred black men down here?”

Crockett said he skipped his lunch break to attend the press conference, but his friends declined to come with him.

“The change is going to come from the community,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said in an interview with WAFB. “That’s what you’re seeing today.”

Paul said more suspects are warning friends and family they’re going to commit a crime before they follow through, meaning there’s an opportunity for intervention. He’s moved officers from administrative or special roles to patrol units, trying to make the department more visible in high-crime areas.

But Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says can crime can be “interrupted” by households, stepping in to stop violence before it happens.

“Your child is beefing with someone and you know this is going to end deadly? You don’t want your son or daughter hurt?” Robinson asked. “Step in. Intervene. Call C.H.A.N.G.E. We’ll come help.”

WAFB’s Matt Houston will have more on this story on 9News at 4, 5, and 6.

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