After the shooting death of a Port Arthur woman on May 23, a group of locals turned a planned memorial into a prayer vigil across town.
Shanderey Aitkens, who belongs to a Port Arthur activism group, said the idea of releasing balloons at four locations came after the death of Arneshoia Carter.
According to a probable cause affidavit released after her death, Carter was trying to break up a fight and disarm one of the men involved at the Louis Manor Apartments when she was shot in the neck.
Carter, 31, was taken to a nearby hospital but taken off life support three days later.
Lawrence Edwards, 35, was arrested June 6 and charged with manslaughter. His bail was set at $100,000. As of Monday afternoon, he was no longer in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
Aitkens said she didn’t know Carter well, but was saddened by the woman’s death.
“I moved here from Louisiana after Hurricane Ida and it took me a few months to settle down where I could really mingle with people,” said Aitkens, who lives at Louis Manor Apartments. “I didn’t know her personally, but it was such a tragedy.”
Aitkens said working for better than the city she lives in is part of her life, no matter where she is.
“I’ve always been a community activist because I’ve always been on the wrong side of the hill – poverty, domestic violence,” she said. “I can recognize when other people are going through this. It’s my way of reaching out however I can, especially with children.
Currently, Aitkens works with the children of Louis Manor, particularly in the summer food program. The idea to have a vigil for Carter first arose from her and the complex staff.
However, when she was brought in front of the activism group she belongs to, it turned into a balloon release at four locations: The Pavillion, Gillam Circle, Memorial High School and Louis Manor.
All four will take place on July 30 at 6 p.m.
“There are a lot of people who have lost loved ones to gun violence, so we decided to make it a community thing,” she said.
Organizers are asking attendees to attach inspirational messages to the balloons before they are released.
“Someone who hurts inside might be walking down the street and seeing this floor tag that makes their day better,” she said.