Basketball is once again part of a plan to reduce violence in New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the third season of the city’s midnight basketball league, this time to be held in Central City.
The idea of a night league came from the mayor’s Save Our Sons campaign to curb the stubbornly high murder rate. It was hoped that young men would not get into trouble if they were not on the streets at night — but still having fun. More than 1,000 signed up last season.
This time it’s being run by Ryan Dalton, who knows street violence first-hand. After being shot three times, he enrolled in the Café Reconcile employment program and is now organizing the Central City league. He came up with the slogan: "Dreams Are Weapons."
“Most young men forget about the importance of dreaming, or never had the opportunity to dream because of their current circumstances or prior situations," Dalton said. "They worry more about getting shot, killed or getting caught in the crossfire. Families are being torn apart almost every day. And it’s time out for that lifestyle. It’s time to start dreaming.”
The first league was held at the St. Bernard Center, the second at the Joseph Clark high school in Tremé. Landrieu announced the third season at the gym in the next venue — KIPP Central City High School.
“The things that are working in the city of New Orleans are the things that are the product of partnerships; working with other people. And everybody putting everything they have into one pot to produce something that’s good for everybody else," Landrieu said. "We are just so thrilled to be at this particular facility in Central City because this is the place where we can make a great difference.”
After the announcement, KIPP students took a few shots at baskets with some of the New Orleans Hornets, who are also supporting the league. The first games are set to begin at 8 p.m. each Saturday from March 2 to May 4.