GRAMBLING, La. (AP) — A proposed $18 million security barrier around Grambling State University could kill the City of Grambling, Mayor Ed Jones said.
“I know they don’t want the city to die, and if they’re just making a decision solely looking at the university, that’s what will happen,” Jones said.
In December, the university asked the University of Louisiana Systems Board of Supervisors for funds for design and construction of the protective barrier, The News-Star reported. The board approved the request, but it still needs an OK from lawmakers.
Jones said the proposed barrier could fence off a city street and a state highway, which he said could harm the city commercially.
“We have 18-wheelers that go through there,” Jones said. “We have businesses that people go there to visit and if they cannot go through the street, they will be diverted from those businesses and those businesses would lose money. Plus the fact we have 18-wheelers, for an example, that come through there. It’s a four-lane highway and if those 18-wheelers are diverted to other parts within the city limits of Grambling, our streets are not wide enough to accommodate.”
The campus barrier is part of a larger assessment of upgraded security and safety measures at the university. Since 2017, at least four people have been killed and 15 wounded during eight shootings on the university’s campus.
Jones said he doesn’t know how the state could spend $18 million on a fence separating the university from the city when the assailants in an October campus shooting were not members of the community.
“The people who commit the murders were visiting students, they were non-students but they weren’t community people,” Jones said. “Most of the people who live in Grambling are senior citizens. Just by putting a fence up is not going to prevent guns from coming to the university, that’s internal control and the university needs to do a better job to control what comes on the university’s campus.”
Jones said a community meeting will be called when specifics for the barrier are released.
Jones said if his or the city’s concerns are not addressed, the issue would most likely end up in court.