City resident, victim of gun violence reacts to latest VIPER task force reports

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Clianda Florence has lived in Rochester her whole life. During her time here, she’s been affected by city crime. Florence reacted to the latest updates from the VIPER task force — the group responsible for targeting the source behind the City’s violence.

At the age of 7, Florence’s son Ian, lost his birth-father Jamaar Washington to gun violence eight years ago.

“You were just at your father’s house and you get a phone call at one in the morning saying your dad is no longer here,” Florence said.

It has been a long journey since, connecting Ian to services and counseling his needs in order for him to heal faster and greater. But it’s not easy, especially when the violence is still present Rochester.

Most recently, Florence family’s church was the latest victim of harm in the City.

“The Central Church of Christ, we have been there over 50 years, someone was released from jail a few weeks ago and they bust out several windows around the church,” Florence said.

The federal task VIPER task force is working to get a handle on recent crime by targeting known offenders and reviewing charges daily.

A recent report shows the following progress between Buffalo and Rochester :

  • 138 total arrests
    • 45 firearm related arrests
    • 45 narcotics related arrests
    • 38 violent felony arrests
  • 22 total illegal firearms seized
  • 15 defendants adopted for federal prosecution (21 additional defendants currently under review for federal prosecution)

Florence believes these numbers may feel like small victories to some, but says the community is “excited about a little crumbs, but we’re not willing to follow the trail to where the crumbs are coming from.”

Her message surrounds the future of Rochester’s youth. Providing them with educational programs, nutritional food and hope.

“Any type of gang affiliation they don’t start when they’re older they start when they’re younger,” Florence said. “They need to be assimilated to know they can become a carpenter, electrician, asbestos removal.”

Florence added there needs to be more focus on inequities in the city. She mentioned more mental health resources for city residents, more educational resources and grocery stores in closer proximity.

There will be a community meeting Tuesday, July 27 about gun violence reduction and the VIPER task force — hosted by US Attorney JP Kennedy. The event will be held at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center at 10 a.m.

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