'Enough is enough': Donaldsonville group stands up to violence with march, rally
The Sunrise Community Group joined several local officials for a Stop the Violence march and rally in Donaldsonville on the afternoon of Feb. 27.
The march included both the Port Barrow area off Hwy. 1 and the neighborhood near St. Patrick Street and the railroad underpass at Marchand Avenue.
In a symbolic gesture, hearses from area funeral homes trailed the marchers.
The group's chairman, Glenn Price, spoke at the rally held in front of the River Road African American Museum's Rosenwald school building.
"We came out here today because we realized we have a problem here in Donaldsonville with violent crime that we need to confront," he said to the crowd. "We let the community know that this is something that we all have to work together on to solve this problem."
According to statistics the group obtained from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, nine shootings were reported in less than two months of 2022. One included an apparent murder-suicide.
Price welcomed Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan to address the crowd first.
"When you look at the number of people here, I think we need to build on this and let people know enough is enough when it comes to the crime here in the City of Donaldsonville," Sullivan said.
He emphasized the importance of letting the young people of the community know they are loved.
"Let the young people know that we love them. The only way this will stop is for us to get involved," the mayor said.
State Rep. Ken Brass was also in attendance and spoke about the violence affecting not only Donaldsonville, but the entire River Parishes area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
"We're not going to stand for this anymore," Brass said.
He plans to focus on "cradle to career" legislation to provide funding for early childhood development to create long-term opportunities to the youth of the area.
Lt. Donald Capello of the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office said it was refreshing to see members of the community get involved with the event.
The Sheriff's Office provided an escort to the marchers in both areas.
Rev. Charles Brown, who serves as chairman of the Donaldsonville City Council, stressed remaining consistent with the action.
"We've got to continue to march on until victory is won. Victory is when we can wake up in the morning and know that Donaldsonville has peace, harmony, and love throughout the whole community," Brown said.
Fellow council member Reginald Francis pointed out crime has been a problem everywhere.
"This whole world needs love. I remember something the police chief in Baton Rouge said: When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you love what you see? Undoubtedly some don't, and that's why we have so much crime," Francis said.
Darryl and Kathe Hambrick welcomed everyone to the Rosenwald campus of the museum.
"When we complete this building, this will be a place where kids in the community can come and have a refuge to get away from some of the things they are confronted with day-to-day," Darryl Hambrick said.
He added that he always tries to offer positivity when speaking to Baton Rouge area news outlets.
"There are some good things that go on here that goes unnoticed. So, we want to be the positive side of that," he said.
The Hambrick family operates a funeral home in Gonzales. He invited the Demby and Southall families to speak about the difficulty of doing their jobs as funeral directors.
"It's enough... It's enough," he said in speaking about having to bury young people.
"We don't like to roll those hearses. We definitely don't like to do that. But because of what's going on we are constantly bombarded day in and day out. COVID was enough and then we've got these killings in our community on top of that. How much more of this can we take? I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," he said.
Kathe Hambrick said the goal for next time should be to bring out more people and to discuss solutions to the issue.
"As my brother Darryl said, it doesn't do us any good to march without coming up with solutions," she said.
Sunrise Community Group co-chair Kurt Mitchell was unable to attend due to illness. Price read a pre-written statement from Mitchell.
"When we talk about crime, it's a community problem. It's everyone's problem and it will take everyone to bring a solution," Price read.
Former Ascension Parish Council member Oliver Joseph, who represented the west side, also addressed the crowd.
"We really need this here. This community needs jobs too. Crime doesn't bring jobs, it runs jobs away," he said.
State Sen. Ed Price said some of the violence can be stopped if more people say something when they see something.
"We have to get out here ourselves and do this," he said.
Robyn Penn Delaney, who represents the area on the Ascension Parish School Board, also spoke to the crowd.
"Let's make sure we start with ourselves. Show love to one another. We can turn this thing around if we come together as one," she said.
The Donaldsonville City Council's Lauthaught Delaney pointed out the importance of joining together at all times.
"Let's work together and try to make Donaldsonville a better place," he said.