ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The public was invited to a forum on ending gun deaths Wednesday night. It was hosted by the Mayor Lovely Warren’s office and moderated by City Councilman Willie Lightfoot.
The stories shared by participants during the “Roc Against Gun Violence” discussion illustrated the challenges out on the streets.
“November 17, 2007, I lost my 16-year-old son,” says Sirena Cotton.
“I witnessed my ex-boyfriend being murdered. He actually died in my arms,” adds Wanda Ridgeway.
After Friday’s three homicides, Rochester now sits at 17 murders for 2020, 14 of those gun-related. “We must end the culture of violence that leads far too many people in our city to settle disputes with a gun,” said Mayor Warren in a press release.
“There is no one answer to this, it’s a complex issue,” says Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. He says the Rochester Police Department is aggressively gathering data to put the right strategies in place in city hot spots.
“Many of our homicides are street-related, and I believe the larger problem is individuals not knowing how to settle disputes,” says Singletary.
“We have one mission, and that is eradicating gun violence in our community,” says City Councilman Lightfoot.
Lightfoot says they’re currently working with the police to create a coordinated response team for homicides, and ordered a first-ever mobile trauma unit. “So that’s on its way. We always talk about trauma, but we’re not actually doing anything about it,” he says.
Organizations like Pathways to Peace and Rise Up Rochester are trying to bring prayer back to the streets, and share grief with each other, hoping to spread a message of non-violence. Rise Up Rochester and others met on Monday calling for the community to cease the shootings impacting neighborhoods across the city.
But at the end of the day, Lightfoot says politicians cannot legislate people’s morality. The change the community seeks to ending gun violence rests with all of us. “So, it’s going to take each and every one of us. It’s not a ‘you do thing’, it’s a ‘we do thing,'” he says.
To watch the meeting in its entirety, click here.