'Take heed!' NYS lawmaker says there are gangs in Rochester | WHEC.com

'Take heed!' NYS lawmaker says there are gangs in Rochester

Berkeley Brean
Created: June 15, 2021 06:33 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There was another shooting in Rochester. Police say a 49-year-old man was shot at 10 o'clock in the morning in the area of Genesee Street Tuesday.

Our city is averaging one person shot every day, and the violence prompted a state lawmaker to contact News10NBC to get a message to parents and grandparents.

Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D, 137) has been in the State Assembly for a total of six months, but he's lived and worked in the city his entire life. 

He believes there is a gang problem that no one wants to talk about. So he decided to talk about it. 

Meeks: "No one is talking about it but we know for a fact that we have gang violence in the streets of Rochester. And I think we need to educate families on what it looks like, what participation looks like."

Brean: "What leads you to believe we have a gang problem in the city?"

Meeks: "What leads me to believe that is when I hear of young men being murdered in the streets I find out their names I reach out to their families. I also visit their social media pages. You see the different colors. You see the different signs."

According to the RPD open data portal, 169 people have been shot in the city in 2021 as of Sunday. This time last year it was under 100.

Twenty-five people have been killed this year. That is also up from 2020.

Brean: "Captain, do we have gangs in Rochester?"

Capt. Nasir Zenelovic, RPD: "Ah, yes we do."

Zenelovic said the gangs are street level and local, not chapters of big city, national gangs. 

He says they're groups of people who grew up together or sell drugs together, there's been a battle between two gangs since last summer and he told a story that shows sometimes the violence happens between two former friends. 

Capt. Zenelovic: "Saturday night. Two men, grown men, in a gang together for some years no longer like each other. They came together, got into a fight, one left, got a gun, came back and shot the other one and within minutes we knew who did it but none of the family members or witnesses cared to ID or cared to participate in any court proceeding because of their name being put out there and the fear they would be targets of violence."

Assemblyman Meeks says, growing up, his mother checked his room and what he was doing all the time. 

He thinks that can work now. 

Meeks: "If you find your child, if you shop for your child, if your child would normally wear any color under the spectrum and all of a sudden there's a change in the dynamic and they simply want to wear one color versus another color. If you see them hanging around certain crowds versus other crowds, take heed."

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