ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gathering on the grounds where a toddler was shot Wednesday evening, community leaders and residents are saying enough is enough. A human chain was formed on North Clinton Ave. in front of the International Plaza and St. Michael’s Church. The purpose was to show strength, be visible to the neighborhood, and find solutions to ending what could be another record-breaking year for violence in the city.
City Council President Miguel Melendez says this human chain tonight has a two-fold purpose. “First and foremost– to send a positive message that this community cares– and that we want to achieve public safety,” he says.
And on that public safety angle: “Well, we’re doing everything humanly possible– law enforcement, federal, state, and local,” said Charles Salina is with the US Marshal’s Task Force.
He says in recent months, they’ve never taken more violent offenders and more guns off the streets. But it’s not enough. “The community needs to work with us shoulder to shoulder. Bring us information, and bring their concerns to us. Give us a chance,” he said.
Justin Morris with Untrapped Ministries says this community has reached a boiling point, especially after Wednesday night. “We’re in a state of emergency right here on Clinton Avenue,” said Morris.
He says resources are needed that will combat violence and the drug epidemic… resources that are not targeted towards a vote. “We need intentional backing behind community-led groups,” said Morris.
Rochester City Court Judge Van White says in decades, it’s been the same story. “The names of the victims have changed, but this problem has not,” he said.
The core of the solution he says, is right here. People connecting. “And letting folks know in this visible way, that this is not normal,” said White.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Melendez adding he wants to see violence prevention that the community can take part in.
Other leaders at the human chain tonight included Ida Perez with the Ibero-American Action League, Beatriz Lebron with the school board, and Yversha Roman with the county legislature.