BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A memorial wall in the intersection of North Foster and Fairfields Avenue stands tall with images of gun violence victims.
The wall that showcased stories now has cracks and damages, due to it being vandalized, according to Devin Page Jr.’s grandmother, Cathy Toliver. Page was a three-year-old gun violence victim who was shot while sleeping in his bed.
Toliver is the founder of the memorial and has recovered from the damages that were done to the wall, but still hopes to send a message to the person or people who may have done it.
‘“Who would be so evil and so cruel?’” asked Toliver. “I don’t know who did it. I don’t know how it happened but my message is still the same. I’m not going anywhere. It’s still going to be here. I was angry, but all that anger did was just continue to push me into purpose.”
Purpose that she considers as healing.
“I want the healing to start. I want people to know that their loved ones are not forgotten. And then I also want to put a face to the buller,” said Toliver.
Community resident Efrem Fernandez has been living in the area for over three decades and said the wall holds power and he is upset that the wall was damaged.
“Every time I look at that wall, it really hurts,” said Fernandez. “It really hurt me deeply in my heart to see that.”
Now he hopes people take in a deeper message, especially with all the recent shootings.
“Let’s have respect for one another. I don’t care who you is, you know, we need to stop the crime,” he said.
Toliver said there are not only more memorial walls in the works but also a memorial park she hopes to bring to life by this summer.
“A place of retreat to go and have peace of mind,” said Toliver. “If they want to laugh, if they want to cry, if they want to have a moment of solitude, that area, that space will be designed specifically for those families who are victims of gun violence.”
Toliver said the park will have pictures, church bells, and more for families to come and reflect on.
“So many of these families didn’t have headstones for their loved ones. So what we’re going to do is make it so beautiful, so memorable that it will be a time where they can go, a place of refuge, a place of retreat to have a peace of mind,” she said.
For right now, Toliver doesn’t know who vandalized the memorial wall and hopes to know soon when she receives camera footage.
As more memorial walls come to life, she said community members can expect to find them in high-crime areas and people can send in pictures of gun-violence victims to be featured to the email email@example.com with name, birth date and day of death.