Updated: 10/04/2013 5:54 PM
Created: 10/04/2013 6:36 AM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean
The center of the city completely changed Friday because of new bus passes given to city school students.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of students were waiting to transfer buses and a fight broke out. Police say a gun was fired. It's not what anyone wants to see while shopping or eating in downtown Rochester. The Rochester City School District came up with a plan including new bus passes.
Today, it was absolutely night and day from what happened two weeks ago. Then it was chaos. Today, it was calm. The sidewalk virtually empty of young students. The only students allowed to be here are the ones like Haley and Rose Vega, who had new buses passes that allowed them to transfer downtown. Everyone else takes a direct bus route home.
What happened at the Liberty Pole two weeks ago, not only impacts students, but also people who are trying to make a living, running a business downtown like Jessica Santiago, who was working at the Rainbow clothing store inside the Sibley building. It affects what the police chief and his police officers do too.
Haley Vega, School Without Walls tenth grader, said, “Yeah I like it more calm and peaceful and easy to walk by without bumping into everybody.”
Rose Vega, School Without Wall ninth grader, said, “Yeah, because before there was a lot of people, but then after someone got shot, people left because no one wants to get shot.”
Chief James Sheppard, Rochester Police Department, said, “All along what I've said is what makes it a problem is the volume of kids downtown and when you have an event, a fight, a scuffle, just the sheer mass of them can be intimidating for them and makes it difficult for our officers to do their job.”
Jessica Santiago, Rainbow store, said, “Customers are scared to come into the store, customers are scared to come downtown. Mostly we just lose money because people don't want to come down here to shop.”
The district didn't make the superintendent available to News10NBC today, but we got a statement from the head of the Rochester City School Board Malik Evans. Evans said, “Young people must be held accountable for their actions and parents are responsible for their children.”