LaMont Cole, 45, knows a thing or two about Baton Rouge.
In addition to spending his life locally, he serves as District 7 councilman and chief academic officer for CSAL Middle School.
His life is centered around the city – and while he’s proud to be a native, Cole knows there’s a lot of change that needs to happen for Baton Rouge to hit its peak.
Last year, 87 homicides were reported throughout East Baton Rouge Parish, the majority of which occurred inside city limits.
According to a report by The Advocate, the city’s murder rate remains one of the nation’s highest.
And that’s exactly why Cole is committed to sparking change.
On June 14, the councilman invites everyone to attend his second Pedaling for Peace event, a bike ride meant to raise awareness about the violence epidemic sweeping the area.
“There are so many people who want to promote family-oriented events,” Cole explains, “and after a series of violent crimes last year, we wanted to think of different ways to engage the community.”
Pedaling for Peace was motivated by the need to shift perceptions about the city by coming together in a positive way.
“Last year, we had more than 200 riders participate,” Cole says. “Lots of violent crimes take place over the weekends, so the idea was to hold the bike ride on a Friday afternoon … because we wanted to turn that negativity around.”
Shoppers Value steps up for second year
To ensure the inaugural event was successful, Cole connected with various community officers and partners, one of which was Shoppers Value Foods.
“There is a huge parking lot in front of the store,” he explains, “and it’s a very central location. When I contacted (Chief Financial Officer Danielle Satawa) to see if we could use the space to meet, she said not only would they offer the lot, but they were going to ride with their whole family and also provide the refreshments.”
Satawa’s father, Skipper Jones, runs Shoppers Value with business partner Ted Harvey, and the team was eager to do their part.
“Being so involved in the community, this was a great motivator,” Satawa says. “It was a perfect fit for us. Our stores are integrated in these neighborhoods, and the biggest thing for us is to show up and actively participate in making our streets safer. Having young people witness positivity is a much better experience than only being exposed to the negative things.”
This year, the Shoppers Value team will once again provide refreshments and offer its parking lot as the Pedaling for Peace meeting place. Expect to see Satawa and her family on their bikes, as well.
“Not only does this event promote peace,” she explains, “but it also serves as a window to curb the obesity epidemic by encouraging healthy, active living. We’re very excited to partner with the city for the second year.”
The ride kicks off at 6 p.m. June 14 at the Shoppers Value parking lot on Government Street and continues to Howell Park on Winbourne Avenue.
Cole anticipates a larger turnout than last year and hopes that the event encourages people to raise awareness year-round.
“The fellowship that we saw last year was incredible,” he says. “It was phenomenal to see people from all walks of life come together, pray together and ride together for a common cause. That collaboration was huge and showed how much people care about our community.”
Pedaling for Peace partners include the MLK Community Center, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Chief Murphy Paul, Baton Rouge Police Department, Bike Baton Rouge, Front Yard Bikes, New Schools for Baton Rouge and Geaux Cruisin’.
Mayor Broome will lead a prayer vigil remembering those who have lost their lives to violence.
For those who do not have bicycles, Geaux Cruisin’ will provide rentals. Call owner Kirkland Pelichet at 225-424-7720 for details.
For more information about Shoppers Value Foods and Pedaling for Peace, visit www.shoppersvaluefoodsla.com.
Follow Shoppers Value Foods on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShoppersValueLA.
Pedaling for Peace Bike Ride
WHEN: 6 p.m. June 14
WHERE: Riders will meet at the Shoppers Value Foods parking lot on Government Street
MORE INFO: Twahna P. Harris, 225-389-3182 or email@example.com