BATON ROUGE (NBC33) — Hundreds packed into the Baton Rouge Marriott Friday night, all concerned about violent crime in the city. Some directly affected -- like Rhonda and Felton Billoups -- whose son was murdered in 2010.
"No matter where you live in this parish, you can't sit and say crime doesn't affect you," said East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
From the clergy, to the leaders of law enforcement, to members of the community, the room was packed. It was also filled with candid comments.
"There is no village," said Pastor Raymond Jetson of Star Hill Church. There is no village because the villagers don't give a damn about the village."
"It is everywhere. All of our problem," said Sheriff Gautreaux. "No us and them. It's all our problem."
Organizers encouraged everyone -- from the audience to the speakers -- to speak openly about the issues, hoping that would lead to more direct solutions.
"Tonight we have the opportunity to go beyond talk and take action,"
Leaders signed the "next day" pledge, making a commitment to leave the gathering, and not forget what they've heard. And to put concrete solutions into action.
"It is what we do tomorrow, the day after, next month and years after to make the biggest difference," Smith said.