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Mayor's Office discusses Earth Day violence at Friday press conference

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BATON ROUGE - Mayor "Kip" Holden and other officials held a news conference late Friday morning to discuss recent incidents that erupted downtown during this year's Earth Day festivities.

On that Sunday, chaotic altercations erupted between young people in the downtown festival area with pictures and videos immediately appearing on social media outlets. Three teens involved in the fights attempted to steal a car from the parking garage at the Belle of Baton Rouge casino, and a gunshot was fired as the teens confronted the driver. BRPD's Sergeant Todd Bourgoyne faced serious disciplinary action from the department after he was filmed punching a teenager as he was being handcuffed. He was placed on administrative leave in the days that followed as an internal investigation was put into motion and remains on administrative leave as on Friday, according to BRPD.

By law, the investigation has to be complete after 60 days.

District Attorney Hillar Moore, BRPD Chief of Police Carl Dabadie and Pastor Gerald Robinson of McKowen Baptist Church along with other area pastors spoke during the press conference.

Mayor Holden said that the press conference was not a forum to discuss “us against them,” rather it was about unity and coming together as a community.

When WBRZ’s Mark Armstrong asked Mayor Holden to comment about the incident, he said that he would not talk about any specifics of the incident.

EBR District attorney Hillar Moore added that information regarding the officer involved incident with the teen on Earth Day remains confidential at this time.

He went further to say that all of the incidents that took place on Earth Day do not reflect the city and says that the city is not divided.

Moore went on to say that authorities and officials are working together to care of the incident moving forward.

“We have met and heard your concerns and we are working together,” Moore said.

BRPD Chief of police Carl Dabadie said that he is committed to the due process and does not want the entire department to be judged for the incident.

A pastor that was with Pastor Gerard Robinson, of McKowen Baptist Church, at the press conference pointed out that if the community invests in the city, then less incidents like the ones that took place on Earth Day will occur less often.

The pastor went further to say that children “need to get culturally involved” and have more structure. He added that he along with Pastor Robinson and others are always working hard in the community with teens.

“The truth of it is we have a lot of harding working faith based organizations and pastor working, but you may not see it except for incidents like these,” the pastor said.

Moore added that the city could provide more activities such as summer programs for teens.

 “I’m sure there is more that we can do,” Moore said. “We are going to do with what we have, we just ask that you be vigilant with your children and your neighbors,” he said.


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