From Crip to Christ - ex-gang member to speak at Crowley's Greater Family Love Worship Center, plans anti-violence rally

CROWLEY - Rev. Elder Banks is a well-spoken native of Little Rock, Ark. who has worked as the director of the Red Cross in Lafayette for 12 years. To speak with him makes it unthinkable that 20 years ago he was a former leader of the notorious Crips street gang in Little Rock that has members throughout the country.

He has been stabbed, shot and slept under bridges to elude police. He even participated in an HBO documentary called “Banging in Little Rock” in 1991.

He was incarcerated on two occasions and while in prison he “surrendered to the Lord.”

“Man I feel like a walking miracle,” said Banks, who now speaks to communities around the country about his experience. “I can tell you one thing that if gang members stick with the life they will end up in one of two places - the cemetery or the penitentiary.”

Banks also says that he sees problems in Crowley - problems that only an ex-gang member would notice. He hopes to spread his anti-violence message to the citizens of Crowley with a “Stop the Violence” rally on Jan. 12, 2013.

He is holding a meeting tonight at 6:30 at the Greater Love Family Worship Center, located at 1001 N. Avenue F, to help plan the rally. He is looking for ideas from local citizens as to how to put a stop to the violence which has plagued Crowley’s streets in recent months. He also has a message he wants to deliver.

“I’d like to teach parents how to be parent,” he said. “I’ve driven down some of the streets in Crowley and seen the gang graffiti and young people playing dice on the side of the road at night. And this has nothing to do with race because gang violence has been popping up in the neighborhoods of people of all colors.”

When Banks left prison he volunteered for the Red Cross to come to New Orleans after Katrina. His talents quickly moved him up the ranks of the organization and he was asked to stay on as a national employee for the organization. Until recently, he held the position in Lafayette.

“I believe that the key to what must be done is ‘unity’,” he said. “More parents and leaders of this community need to step up. But people are also scared to come forward because if they call the police the gang members can find out and will target them ...this is an issue that must be addressed.”

Banks wanted to be sure to thank Crowley Mayor Greg Jones and Bishop Louis Dugar of the church for helping me to organize his event.

“If I can make it out of the life and become a productive citizen so can any of these young men,” he added. “I hope to see many as many citizens as possible Tuesday night.”

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