Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Summer of Hope continues making strikes in the community, but events still going strong

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BATON ROUGE - We're just about halfway through the 2nd "Summer of Hope" in Baton Rouge. The mayor's office started the program to bring change to the community. The biggest change officials hope to see is in crime numbers, but is it working?"

"I think it's easy to be kind of critical of what's happening in our city and it's more difficult to really dig in," said the director of Summer of Hope, Jazzika Matthews. "So, we're challenging the community to dig in right. Put your action where your mouth is. So if you want to see change, you've got to come on board."

So far this year, there have been 48 homicides in the city of Baton Rouge. The numbers are showing a slow but steady decline in homicides over the last three years. In 2022, there were 54 homicides. In 2021, 84 people were killed in the city by July 11.

"I think that people are seeing that in terms of community violence, it is not just the responsibility of law enforcement to kind of engage with that negative aspect of our city but it's also imperative that our community folks find a way to get in engaged with the work," says Matthews.

Charles Daniel decided to do exactly that. He owns Geaux Ride, a bicycle rental service in downtown Baton Rouge. He's hosting a free community bike ride Thursday. He says he wanted to be a part of the program to help bring people together.

"It also gives you an opportunity to have fun, be engaged, get some summer involvement, and keep the community together," Daniels said.

Although the crime has not stopped, the program has held 53 community-based events this summer to combat the violence.

"We also can look where 300 young people have been employed in our city for almost the extent of the entire summer. Seeing that they are actively being mentored by our community by local professionals, that's a positive thing, so you need to speak to folks who are actually engaging in these ideas and these events and they will say different," Matthews said.


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