Residents in Crowley banned together on Monday, to deliver a powerful message. With violent crimes on the rise, residents marched to Stop the Violence.
Two community groups, So Unique Sisters and Divine Ladies and Gents spent one week preparing the march, after a fatal shooting occurred in their hometown. 33 year old Greginald Jones was found dead on October 19th. A friend of Jones, Vicki Cormier, helped to organize the march.
"He (Jones) would give you his last. Everybody in Crowley knew him and loved him," Cormier said. She also explained that the march was not just for Jones, but for all residents who have lost a loved one.
"We all were affected by this and we think something needs to be done."
The march began with a police escort at the intersection of North Avenue E and Hutchinson Avenue, just a few blocks away from were Jones was found murdered. Mayor Greg Jones, Chief K.P. Gibson and other officials joined the march, not only to give their support, but to show they understood that crime has gotten out of control.
Gibson said, "We want our streets back. We want our citizens to be safe, to feel safe and to do what they need to do without having to worry about the violence that has happened in our community."
Mayor Jones agreed, "Nobody's life need to be cut short by a bullet. We want the little kids and the grand-parents and everybody in-between to feel safe in their homes."
Cormier said it's hard for residents to feel safe, when gunshots are being heard in their neighborhoods.
"People are scared to come out of their homes." Cormier began, "We want people to be able to sit on their porch and be happy."
Residents marched for one mile to the Martin Luther King Center. Emotions ran high as those who have lost loved ones prayed for the violence in their community to end. Chief Gibson said he is stepping up patrols during peak hours and areas of dangerous activity.
"We all need to stand together and take our community back, whatever it takes."
Mayor Jones said he will always take suggestions from the community.
"The community should step up. We need to take control and help one another to stop the violence," Jones added.
Since the murder of Greginald Jones, Marlon Mott has been arrested. He was arrested by Beaumont, Texas officials, and is currently awaiting an extradition hearing. Cormier said it felt good to hear the an arrest has been made, but feels the news is bittersweet.
"It won't bring him back. We just need to stop the violence. It's enough."
Crowley Anti- Violence March
Two shootings that occurred in Crowley over the weekend has citizens ready to stop the violence.
Last Friday, 33-year old Greginald Jones was found dead on the corner of Hutchinson and Jacobs avenues; the victim of a gunshot wound. On Sunday, another shooting occurred on the 600 block of West 7th Street. . Chief K.P. Gibson, Crowley Police Department, said his department is working to resolve the shootings. He also mentioned he is working with different agencies to bring those involved to justice.
Gibson mentioned that he has reasons to believe the two crimes are related. It these types of crimes that are concerning him the most.
"We've had fights before. When fights were over, they were over. We've just seeing where things are carrying over, and not stopping and that's what concerns me."
Gibson said violent crimes have been on the rise in the last year. He mentioned that in all his years as chief, this year was in the top as far as violent crimes. Two fatalities have occurred in the past few months; along with other non-fatal shootings.
"When you talk about persons being injured in a fight versus now lives are being taken, yes. Violence has taken a step up in town," Gibson said.
Citizens seem less scared to use weapons, and "pull the trigger," this is according to Gibson. He expressed his concern over citizens being fearful to come forward with any information on crimes they might have witnessed.
"People are concerned and fearful of what might happen to them. That also makes our jobs that much harder."
Gibson isn't the only one who has noticed the rise in violent crimes. Citizens like Vicki Rigmaiven-Cormier have had enough of the violence in their backyards.
"It's enough. It's too much violence. I mean we have kids growing up here, and it's time for something to happen."
Rigmaiven-Cormier has organized a march called Stop The Violence. She organized the march once before in April of this year, but had to cancel for personal reasons. This time, the march is being organized, after her friend Greginald, died in the Friday shooting; a crime she called senseless.
"He was a good person. He would have given his last if he could. Something has to be done."
The march will start on the corner of North Avenue E and Hutchison Ave in Crowley. They will march down close to where Jones was found murdered, and end at the Martin Luther King Center. Rigmaiven-Cormier hopes that the march will give citizens hope.
"If we can save one life from this march, then we can say we've done our jobs."
Gibson said he is doing his part. He is increasing patrols during peak hours and areas that he deems more violent, and his is also personally attending the march on Monday.
"We are trying to show not only a physical presence, but we are showing that we want our streets back for our community."
The march starts at 6pm on Monday. If you have any information on the crimes, you are asked to call either Crowley Police at 783-1234 or Crimestoppers of Acadia Parish at 789-TIPS.