Families gather at State Capitol to honor loved ones who died of drug overdose
BATON ROUGE - Sunday, families gathered on the steps of the State Capitol it's a cry for change from families torn apart by drugs.
"It's time for it to stop, I'm done. I know that you guys are done. We are done with this thing infecting our state."
Banners full of pictures lay scattered on the steps of the state capitol in remembrance of the lives lost to overdoses. These families marched around the state capitol Sunday morning calling for an end to drug distribution.
The non-profit group Millie Mattered was created in 2020 after founder Lilly Harvey lost her daughter Millie to fentanyl poisoning in 2017.
"I held her hand for the last time and God commissioned me, He said, 'take her name and go get people out of bondage,'" Harvey said.
In 2022, there was a step in the right direction for these families. Harvey teamed up with Senator Glen Womack in passing Senate Bill 315 "Millie's Law," making heroin and fentanyl distribution a crime of violence.
But still there's work that needs to be done. According to the East Baton Rouge Coroner, the parish has seen over hundreds of fatal overdoses each year dating back to 2017.
Its now brought thousands of grieving families together, including Jennifer Milam and Sharmaine Eastin.
"This hits very close to home for me so it's important to me that everybody knows and understands that we're all fighting the same battle," Milam said.
Milam lost her 20-year-old son Nicholas to overdose. He recently passed away on Friday.
"There may be hope on the horizon," Milam said, "that there is something that can be done to stop the flow of dangerous drugs into our community."
Eastin lost her 27-year-old son Ryan in July 2022.
"We need to get a better hold on this fentanyl epidemic, it's ripping through our lives," Eastin said.
"It has to be a priority," Milam said. "It won't stop unless they can stop the flow onto the streets and into our country. Real consequences."
"Definitely tougher laws regarding jail time especially for the dealers," Eastin said.
Above all, Millie Mattered focuses on educating others and keeping their loved ones' memories alive.
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