Families enjoy Puerto Rican Fest amid increased police presence on North Clinton Ave.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Rochester Police are increasing their patrol Saturday night along North Clinton Avenue in response to gun violence in the area over the past few days.

Everyone I talked to said this event has been successful, a family-friendly celebration of Puerto Rican culture, but they’re frustrated by the violence just a few miles away.

For Julisa Quinones, the violence along North Clinton Avenue wasn’t going to stop her from coming out the Puerto Rican Festival again this year.

“At the end of the day, we are celebrating Puerto Rican culture and the violence is not needed. So honestly, it’s just a work in progress and hopefully it gets better.”

Police say large gatherings have led to violence the past two nights near North Clinton and Upper Falls Boulevard.

Around 1 a.m. on Saturday, five people were shot in two shootings just minutes apart on North Clinton Avenue. One person was killed, and another is fighting for their life. The other three victims, including a 13-year-old, are expected to be okay.

On Thursday, four people were shot on North Clinton in nearly the same spot. Out of caution, the Puerto Rican Parade, which was to go down the avenue this morning, was canceled by organizers.

Chief Smith said, “As you know, we have the Puerto Rican Festival going on tonight at Innovative Field. We had already planned for the parade and those events to go on, so we may have to adapt some of our plans. But the bottom line is, we have ordered officers in, we will have hundreds of officers working tonight.”

Quinones worries some will equate the violence with the festival itself, and avoid the festival altogether.
“I would say it does have an influence on certain people. Certain families don’t want to come out because of the violence. But you know honestly, keep the violence. keep it separate.”

Food vendor Luis Carrasquillo is in favor of a proactive approach to try to prevent problems.

“If you know we are going to have a big event. If you know there are going to be 25,000 people, 30,000, I think there should be a fund. Let’s go out into the community a month before. Put some kind of marketing together that says you know, hey, stop the violence.”

Carrasquillo, who owns Munchies Roc City Empanadas, has been selling his foods at the festival for seven years.

“It’s important for the community to support the Puerto Rican Festival and the Latino community. It’s not our fault as a community that there are some bad apples.”

There certainly was a lot of support. Plenty of families were out Saturday night at Innovative Field. Meanwhile, Rochester Police Chief David Smith said police will be using checkpoints and road closures in the North Clinton Avenue area to try to quell any problems.