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Grieving grandmother calls out State Representative over failed bill
BATON ROUGE- Ever since three-year-old Devin Page Jr. was shot and killed while sleeping in his home in April 2022, his mother, Tye Toliver, and his grandmother, Cathy Toliver, have been pushing for legislation to make rental properties safer for tenants.
The bill would require landlords to provide adequate lighting and cameras around rental properties. It also would allow tenants to break their lease if two or more criminal incidents within a half-mile radius are reported to police in a six-month time frame.
The bill failed in the legislature Monday.
"It was a slap in the face," Cathy Toliver told WBRZ. "I was like, 'are you kidding me?' I am fighting for the rights of people who can't fight for themselves."
In the House, 70 Representatives voted against Devin's law. One of them was State Representative Barbara Freiberg.
"It's a very broad law, and it encompasses the whole state, and it would encompass landlords across the whole state," Freiberg told WBRZ.
What upset Toliver is Freiberg pushing legislation to have a crime prevention district around LSU. The district would allow voters in the area to decide if they want to pay for things like lighting and cameras.
Toliver says Freiberg's legislation has the same goal as Devin's Law, but what really frustrated Toliver is what Frieberg told WBRZ on Monday.
"Parents send their kids here from all over the country, and they want to know their students are safe here in Baton Rouge, and we want them to be safe here in Baton Rouge. This is just one additional step we can take," Freiberg said Monday.
"That triggered me," Toliver said, "because I am doing the exact same thing with property owners by making them responsible so renters are safe on their property."
She also said Devin's Law's failure is indicative of lawmakers not prioritizing predominantly Black neighborhoods.
"What Barbara Freiberg said was an insult to the Black community," Toliver told WBRZ.
It's something Freiberg disagrees with.
"This has nothing to do with race in any way," Frieberg said. "If she would look at the two districts that we passed in North Baton Rouge, that should talk to that point."
Freiberg also says there is some nuance between her legislation and Devin's Law.
"They're completely different pieces of legislation. One is 'do I tax myself for something?' The other is a mandate for the entire state," Freiberg said. "[Toliver] should come to me about a crime prevention district. I would be happy to support a bill," Freiberg added.
"For Devin's Law, it was about helping the people. I'm doing the same thing Barbara Freiberg was doing," Toliver said. "What's the difference? This isn't apples and oranges, the whole key is about safety."
Freiberg tells WBRZ she wanted to reach out to Toliver and discuss the disagreement they have, but Toliver says she does not want to talk to her right now.
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