‘Really, like, enough is enough’: Rochester’s faith community weighs in on violence

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester area faith leaders joined in the call for community action to confront rising deadly violence in the city, as the city entered a State of Emergency over record numbers of murders.

"Really, like, enough is enough. How bad does it got to get?" asked Clay Harris with United and Healing Through Hope of Monroe County.

The organization has held events around the city for months but he says the city’s recent spasm of deadly violence, three homicides in a single day on Thursday and a new record of 71 for the year, calls for renewed energy from community and faith leaders.

"If black lives really matter,” Harris exclaimed, “the streets would be filled with tens of thousands of people with indignation and with anger and with passion like it was after George Floyd and Daniel Prude.”

On Friday, Mayor Lovely Warren declared a State of Emergency, bringing in new resources from the state and particularly mobilizing police to track down known, wanted criminals.

Away from law enforcement, Rochester City Council Vice President and CrimeStoppers member Willie Lightfoot urged help from churches.

"Each Sunday going forward,” he said, “I’m asking for those that are in their houses of prayer and worship, to get on one accord and to pray for our city, to pray for peace in our city.”

Lightfoot also said he wants to see more initiatives like "Clergy on Patrol" in which church leaders and police have hit the streets together for years.

"It was at this level. Now you’re at this level, within a year, the violence, the killing,” sighed Pastor Nolan Williams at the Ark of the Covenant Church.

Williams said clergy taking it to the streets will help, but he also hopes for more outreach into families, maybe some of them sitting in those pews, that are struggling.

"We can invent all the programs we want to invent,” he said. “But, it’s going to take us reaching that mother, and that father, reaching that hurting child that’s in that home. That’s how you’re going to curb the violence."

United and Healing Through Hope is planning events this weekend and next week and urging broad involvement from an exhausted community.

"This is been not just an epidemic,” Harris said. “I say it’s a pandemic. And it’s really been for years. "

The group planned to hold a job fair to offer alternatives to young people on Monday and Tuesday.