By Harrison Golden | WDSU | August 8, 2021
NEW ORLEANS — In New Orleans’ fight against violence, the wheels are turning.
Bicycles filled the city’s streets Saturday, as dozens of children rode from Mid-City’s First Grace United Methodist Church to City Park. They shared a route ― and a cause: stopping violent crime, particularly those involving kids.
“It takes a village, and we’re that village,” said Senais Edwards, who founded the children’s music organization and sponsored the ride. “It’s going to take more things like this for the community. It’s going to take us actually coming together and giving the kids an alternative.”
The ride for peace follows a tense six months. New Orleans’ Metropolitan Crime Commission reported a nearly 50% jump in violent crime during the first half of 2021. That’s compared to the same period last year.
And the ride wasn’t the only event Saturday aimed at stemming the trend. Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams hosted a virtual crime prevention summit.
“In every meeting I have with parents and community members, I am reminded of the work that must be done to stem juvenile violence and create opportunities, real opportunities for people,” he said.
Williams’ guests at the summit included LaRicha Rousell, whose 14-year-old son, Ja’Mere Alfred, was shot to death last December. Rousell shared her hope for preventing more crimes like the one that took her son’s life.
“We have to create some type of space for them to come in to talk to, to change their mindsets,” she said.
Back at the bike rally, the kids offered their own answers.
“We need to make sure everybody feels safe in this community,” rider Marie Dixon said.
“Support systems and groups like this one is really helpful,” rider Bailey Powell said. “I hope it gets people to stop the violence, give peace and joy, because that’s what God created us to do.”
People who didn’t want to ride a bike had plenty to do as well. Outside First Grace United Methodist Church, event sponsored offered free food, school supplies and COVID-19 vaccines.