'Freedom Movement' founder believes community involvement can curb crime
POSTED: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 5:04am
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Lots of people talk about Baton Rouge's problems, but only a few try to become the solution. Ron Hardy says he can reduce the city's crime rate if other people will follow his lead.
Hardy founded a group called The Freedom Movement, and led its first meeting Wednesday night.
He told the 20 people in attendance that they can make the city a better place if they make an effort.
"If you can, first, believe in the change, and the be the change, then you'll see the change," he said.
Hardy wants to plan a frequent series of festivals and events in parks in some of the cities worst neighborhoods.
"We want the first one to be operated in excellence," he said, "because we're also going to be doing freedom marches, so we're going to march through the streets and basically let them know, 'look, we want to be free of drugs, we want to be free of poverty, we want to be free of murder, we want to be free of all of these things."
Hardy has already drawn the attention of Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, State Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge), and Sgt. "Tweety" Anny, director of the BRAVE project.
"I'm just excited that they heard the vision and they latched onto it and decided to partner with us, because that's one thing that this whole Freedom Movement is about, it's everybody rallying together to bring change."
Anny mentioned that one of the biggest challenges facing BRAVE is the lack of community involvement. Marcelle pointed out that many members of the community do not trust the police department. Both agreed that Hardy's plan could be an important step in uniting the two groups.
For his part, Hardy says he has no fear of going into rough neighborhoods and telling criminals they are not welcome.
"I believe in, if God called you to do something, he's going to back you up," he stated. "So my confidence is not really in myself, but it's in him."
Hardy is also the founder of an organization called Our Generation, which encourages young adults and college students to engage teens to solve issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and school dropouts.
Young people, "don't have any, enough positive influences in their own age bracket," Hardy claims.
Hardy knows other people have tried to start anti-violence movements in the past and failed. He believes many of them got impatient and quit, something he claims will not happen to him.
"No, because God has put the passion in me," he said. "One thing about me: I'm a man of God, and I believe that God has called me to do this."
He thinks he will find a lot more support for The Freedom Movement as time passes because people have had enough of crime plaguing their neighborhoods.
"But sometimes they're just waiting on that one person, or somebody to just stand up first and say, 'I'll do it,' to get behind it," he said.
By speaking to people who share his concerns, Hardy believes they can provide a loud message to local criminals.
"And we're just trying to let them know that we're not going to tolerate it any more," he stated. "We're going to take our streets back."