Rochesterians sound concerns over violence in community conversation

ROCHESTER, N.Y (WHEC) — During a face-to-face conversation about violence in the community Monday afternoon, people had the floor to ask questions and get direct answers from community leaders.

The event was hosted by SAVE ROCHESTER Black Lives Matter. Rochester is at 67 homicides this year. A lot of the questions were about how guns are getting into the city, figuring out what particular neighborhoods need to heal, and what the community can do to engage youth in healthy activities.

“Where are these guns coming from?” one person in the crowd asked.

Interim Rochester Police Chief David Smith grabbed a microphone to answer the question.

"[The] majority of our crime guns are purchased out of state, a small percentage are taken in burglaries from legitimate owners,” he said.

The mic went all around the room.

Another community member asked, "What can be done to narrow down, the amount of — I guess the type of crimes — that are eligible for bail reform?”

Andy Rodriguez, the Assistant United States Attorney for Western District of New York, Rochester office, answered. "If someone is raped or someone is assaulted, as soon as that person is arrested and gets to the judge they’re released on bail, then what happens? You have people taking it upon themselves to seek justice with a gun. We have meetings in my office to discuss this. Will you be able to hold them, to the DA’s office? If you can’t are the feds able to do something?”

Part of the initiative is to listen to what certain communities need in order to stop it.

Save Rochester Black Lives Matter said it starts with the youth.

"If we don’t wake up and realize, that our kids need to be loved and supported in everything that they’re doing, at this young age then we are going to continue to lose them,” one leader of the organization said.

A School of The Arts student said he’s doing just that, by creating a program called "We Got This", which aims to help stop youth gun violence by giving kids a focus on passions, not the street.

"A lot of the issues we’re seeing with our youth with the violence and fighting and stuff like that is a product of hurt youth who don’t know how to deal with their hurt, but to temporarily satisfy it by hurting others,” the student said.

Attendees also asked what is being done to crack down on violence inside schools.

RPD said when officers were inside schools, they didn’t just enforce the law, they connected with kids.