Local group hits streets to call for change
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The parolee arrested for killing two Rochester men, in two separate shootings, was arraigned this morning at Rochester City Court. Christopher Williams pleaded not guilty to the charges he now faces. News10NBC was in the courtroom.
Police say Williams shot and killed 47-year-old Marcus Bennett last month at a home on Sixth Street. They say he’s also responsible for Tuesday night’s shooting death of 26-year-old Kenneth Johnson at his home on Roycroft Drive. News10NBC spoke with one group hitting the streets to call for change, in light of all the recent shootings.
Just hours after Williams was arraigned on second-degree murder charges, as well as gun charges, United and Healing Through Hope of Monroe County are out once again calling for the end of gun violence in the city.
“We as a community, we must come out in force and say enough is enough, because we’re losing too many of our young people. Our babies,” said Founder Clay Harris.
He says in order to stop the violence we must deal with the crisis of mental health. Harris is calling for the return of mental institutions.
“Many of these people don’t belong on the street until they get the necessary help. Years ago we used to have like literally an institution. They closed them all down. I understood that but it’s time to recognize that people need help,” said Harris.
Mental health advocates such as Dr. DJ Robinson say essential programs are not available in the city.
“We need to put pressure on our legislators, pressure on our administrations to make these programs accessible. The ones we’re trying to implement, make them accessible to those that really need them, because transportation is also a barrier,” said Robinson.
Harris says he’d also like to see more programs for people who are on parole or probation.
“You just can’t let them go back without having the necessities to reacclimate themselves in society so they can help themselves, and their family. That’s the solution,” said Harris.
He is calling on the community to not only pray but to fast for the next 2 weeks. This whole weekend he’s also hosting a “Stop the Violence” family night at the Highland Bowl from 11 to 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, Williams is being held at the Monroe County Jail under no bail, no release. A preliminary hearing is set for next Tuesday.