ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As the City of Rochester copes with the 48th homicide of 2022, Pathways to Peace, Rise Up Rochester, Roc the Peace, and other organizations came together on Hudson Avenue Thursday evening for a community bar-be-que. It’s a series of continued outreach on the streets to help people change their minds about gun violence.
Victor Saunders is the mayor’s advisor on violence prevention. He says this is a continued show of strength to help change the tide of violence.
“Basically going street to street, house to house, letting people know who we are, letting people know there are resources available,” said Saunders.
And getting men out here in the ranks is to provide examples for the younger crowd, and show a different path.
Devon Riggins says it starts with God. “For me to be that positive role model, I have to show them the actual right way,” said Riggins.
Jerome Underwood with Action for a Better Community and Army veteran Wily Cunningham say they want to break up the gang-to-prison routine.
“A lot of the brothers and men you see here are working ‘upstream’ doing youth development work,” said Underwood.
“People getting killed, you go to prison, coming back, going to prison… it’s the same cycle,” said Cunningham.
Mothers from ‘Rise Up Rochester’ and ‘Roc the Peace’ were there to support the men; each woman has her own story of loss that motivated them to action.
“I lost my 16-year-old son Christopher Jones on November 17, 2007, and I’ve been out here ever since,” said Sirena Cotton with Roc the Peace.
“I never thought I’d be seeing what I’m seeing. It’s rough,” says Wanda Ridgeway of Rise Up Rochester. She says these gatherings allow grieving parents a chance to lean on one another for needed support.
Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D-Dist. 137) says this is now the third week of combined outreach… and they’re not slowing down. “We will not continue to allow our differences to divide us. We care for our community and that’s why we’re present,” said Meeks.