‘Trying to find a solution’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2012

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – With three murders in slightly more than a month in St. John the Baptist Parish, several members of the local community have decided it is time for the violence to end.

A number of citizens have begun to hold weekly prayer vigils at the space used for the Tirzah Mentor Program on Carrollwood Drive.

“We decided to have prayer every Monday to pray for these kids who are getting in trouble,” said Patricia Wallace, who heads the mentor group.

Another of the vigil’s organizers, Wanda Zeno, explained the rationale behind the vigils.

“I have a son that’s incarcerated,” she said. “My heart goes out to these parents. You’ve got parents losing children to death, but you’ve also got parents losing kids to the system.”

Wallace said one of the main goals of her mentoring program is to stop the cycle of violence and neglect that many children from lower-income households face and instead produce contributing members of society.

“We’re trying to find a solution,” she said.

Wallace explained many of the children who grow up to be criminals have faced adversity since childhood.

“I don’t want to see anybody else go through that,” she said. “A lot of them have been molested and abused.”

“We need to be able to give these children a second chance at life,” Zeno added.

Another member of the group, the rapper Ramon Anderson, also known as Lil Razor, is currently organizing a “stop the violence” march. He has enlisted some other members of the local hip-hop community including DJ Daniel Louis and Kelvin “Kel-J” Johnson.

“I’m not used to it being like this,” said Anderson. “It’s just getting out of hand in this parish.”

With two murders already in the first month of 2012, St. John the Baptist Parish is on track to double the number of homicides it saw in 2011.

Anderson said he will use his extensive network of contacts to try to make the event a success, but he said he will need help from the community at large to have the impact he hopes it will.

“I’m trying to get a couple of guest speakers,” he said. “It’s going to get bigger.”

Anyone interested in participating in or helping organize the march should call 985-224-9504 or email lilrazor9@ gmail.com.

The prayer vigils are held each Monday at 924 Carrollwood Dr., Suite A, in LaPlace, 6-7 p.m.