NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts has issued a heartfelt statement on the victim of last weekend’s mass shooting on Bourbon Street.
Demontris Toliver, a 25-year-old tattoo artist from Baton Rouge, was one of 10 victims of a mass shooting on Bourbon Street.
Toliver was a New Orleans native who attended O Perry Walker High School and NOCCA for a short time, according to a statement released on Facebook by NOCCA president and CEO Kyle Wedberg.
“Though he did not graduate from NOCCA, it is irrelevant whether this young artist spent a day or a high school career with us,” Wedberg wrote. “He was a young artist. As Dr. King continues to remind us, we are our brother’s keepers because we are our brother’s brother. Demontris was our young artist because he was a young artist from Louisiana.”
Wedberg said Toliver was doing what many young people his age do during times of celebration – head out to the French Quarter for a night of fun.
“It was during this most banal and simple of acts that Demontris was shot and killed on Bourbon Street early Sunday morning, guilty of nothing besides wanting to come home to celebrate,” he said.
While Wedberg professed his commitment to New Orleans and Louisiana in the statement, he said safety is the first requirement for anyone choosing to visit or live in New Orleans.
“We have a place so rich and wonderful that every 25-year-old wants to come home to New Orleans, wants to come home to Louisiana,” Wedberg said. “I want my son, every son and daughter of NOCCA, and this son that I got to know for far too short of a time to come home and make this place better with their voice, their love, their life, and their art. But they have to be safe to do it. They have be able to pursue their life here and not live under the fear of losing it.”
More than anything, Wedberg said he mourns the loss of yet another young life and the loss of a young artist.
“My thoughts and prayers, and those of the NOCCA Community, go out to the family of Demontris Toliver,” he said. “Those thoughts and prayers are also for all of us in this community as there is one less artistic voice, one less difference-maker in our midst.”
Read Wedberg’s complete statement below: