Shreveport Gang Leaders Tell Minister How to Stop the Killing
Praise Temple Bishop Larry Brandon talks about his recent meetings with local gang leaders, as Shreveport leaders search for ways to reduce the city's growing gun violence.
"I asked around to meet...leaders and I'm still in a series of meetings. I've invited others to undisclosed locations," says Brandon, who hesitates to label them as gang leaders. "My commitment to everyone in the community is not to use labels."
And where did the Bishop begin to make those connections? "I do walk the streets of the community," he says, "And knowing certain persons, I could ask certain persons to get with individuals of any part of the community. I did ask for an introduction. i did ask for a meeting."
Here's what Brandon told KEEL about that meeting and what those he hesitates to call gang members had to say.
Brandon says that the young men decry what they see as a lack of opportunities in their neighborhoods and also regret the lack of adult male leadership in their lives.
What are the reasons for the recent shootings? Brandon says the men cite a lack of respect, retaliation and way to get money and power. And what if they the members) want to change their lives and get out? "Get out to what?" he says is their response.
And what are possible solutions to ending the violence, both stopgap and long term? Here's what Brandon says, and what the gang members say.
And what Brandon says is the hopelessness of their lives is summed up in a single sentence from one of the leaders, when asked about regard for life, remorse and mercy. "We don't understand remorse. We understand respect. We don't expect to live long."