On Feb. 11, the East Baton Rouge Council awarded Alton Sterling’s children $4.5 million. Sterling was a convicted felon possessing an illegal weapon, resisting arrest. He chose to carry a firearm as a felon; he chose to resist arrest.
East Baton Rouge Parish had a record-high murder rate in 2020. January 2021 marked the deadliest month in decades, with 16 people murdered. At this rate, EBR will have 192 murders for 2021, which is a significant increase from the 136 murders committed in 2020.
Reference NeighborhoodScout.com, where the violent crimes are listed per 1,000 residents; the nation median is 4, while Louisiana is listed as 5.49, and Baton Rouge is listed as 9.52.
The same website lists crimes per square mile. The national median is 28.3 crimes, Louisiana is 33, and Baton Rouge is 179 crimes per square mile.
We have a crime problem caused not by blight but by criminals.
Last year, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome objected to billboards at Interstate 10 and College Drive sponsored by the police union. These billboards listed “46 Homicides in 7 Months” and “Baton Rouge, 5th deadliest City in the US.” These statistics helped warn visitors to “Enter at Your Own Risk.” The mayor claimed the billboards discouraged visitors; she missed a perfect opportunity to own the statistics, support police and have a call to action in crime-riddled communities.
As a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, this award outrages me. Councilmembers did not represent the majority of EBR citizens in this decision nor did they support police officers.
Citizens’ call to action should be to vote the mayor and the council out of office and replace them with representatives who care about the majority. Broome is right: Our crime does discourage visitors. What she misses is the crime rate and the lack of support from city government also encourages parents to flee to a safer city. What an absolute shame.