Faith leaders call for dangerousness standard at Stop Gun Violence Town Hall

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Faith leaders and youth are calling for an end to the violence in Rochester.

Gun violence continues to plague every corner of our city, they say. That’s why a town hall meeting was held Monday evening at the Thomas P. Ryan R-Center calling for an end to gun violence. They are calling for the dangerousness standard to be enacted.

This is something local lawmakers have been calling on state leaders to do to help get violent offenders off the streets who are in possession of illegal guns and to give judges in New York more discretion when it comes to setting bail.

“The gun violence, the illegal gun use, we are no longer going to tolerate it,” Pastor Benjamin Cox, a member of the faith leaders group, said.

Sunday night Rochester saw its 11th homicide. Faith leaders, local city council members, police and youth came together to say enough is enough and stop the gun violence. Cox believes being a part of the town hall meeting is one of the greatest sermons he could ever preach. He said the havoc that some are causing in Rochester has become a public safety crisis and it’s time they face some accountability.

“We want the judges to have a greater discretion instead of releasing repeated felons back into the community that have been involved with illegal gun use,” Cox said.

Illegal gun use is something Kevo Owens, of CERV Coordinator at RISE UP ROCHESTER, used to be involved with. Owens was once on the other side of the law. Now he’s on the preventative side.

“Engage the youth and see how we can get their attention and their hearts pointed in a different direction outside of the streets and the violence,” Owens said.

Councilmember Michael Patterson represents the Northeast district. Back in October, he sent Governor Hochul, the state assembly and senate a letter asking for the dangerousness standard to be enacted.
New York is one of a few states that doesn’t have a dangerousness standard. Paterson believes in our community Black and Brown people are killing each other at an alarming rate.

“The challenge is that the people who shoot them are not authorized to possess a firearm in any way, shape or form,” Patterson said.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter explains it’s great that we are seeing half the numbers in homicides compared to this time last year, but 11 people is too many.

“When we talk about data and the number of people shot going down those are the violent crimes for measurement, but there is other gunplay that aren’t being reported in these statistics,” Baxter said.

Faith leaders say bail reform is great but believe there are some adjustments that need to be made.
They explain they are not after the destruction of bail reform but are after lives being saved on our streets.