Mayor Evans spoke about lives lost to violence this year and hope through city programs for peace

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A lot has happened in Rochester this year. At his year-end press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Malik Evans spoke about the lives the community lost to gun violence, the start of new city programs, the city’s partnerships with Monroe County, this year’s festival, and more.

Mayor Evans acknowledged that the city witnessed unspeakable tragedy in 2022. His tone was one of optimism as he talked about plans and partnerships he believes will better our community.

According to the Rochester Police Department Open Data Portal, there have been 76 homicides in Rochester in 2022. Evans says it’s his administration’s goal to make sure they do everything they can to prevent that next year.

“I’ll start with our greatest challenge. Violence,” Evans said. “…First Sunday of the year and the tragic death of Julius Greer, who was 14 years old. We lost too many young people to violence in our community.”

The first homicide of the year was 14-year-old Julius Greer Jr. He was shot and killed on his way to pick up food. Seven people younger than 18 have been killed this year. The youngest was 12-year-old Juan Lopez, shot and killed in November while walking on Atkinson Street in Rochester. 

More than 50 children have been shot, including 3-year-old Marlo Joseph while sitting in a car. Marlo survived after emergency surgery.

“But we cannot and will never accept a new normal for violence. We saw those numbers up in 2020 and in 2021, and then they kind of continued in 2022,” Evans said.

Violence is not only plaguing city and county streets but also impacting public safety workers, prompting a Gun Violence State of Emergency in July.

“We lost not only 911 operators, but we also lost a police officer, Anthony Mazurkiewicz and we lost firefighter Reyes.”

Two RPD officers, Tony Mazurkiewicz and Sino Seng, were shot in the line of duty during an ambush near Bauman Street on July 21. Officer Mazurkiewicz died of his injuries and Officer Seng survived.

Despite the tragedy we have seen in the city, many have come together to pay tribute to those who have been killed or injured and working to find peace and a solution.

Evans says homicides are now down about 5% compared to this time last year and shootings are down almost 15%. He also says 800 illegal guns have been taken off the street.

“We moved forward with that three part strategy. Prevention, intervention and suppression,” Evans said. “And that will be the same strategy that we will take into the new year.”

The city also expanded the Pathways to Peace Street Outreach Team and kicked off programs like the Advance Peace Pilot Program, run by the Rochester Peace Collective.

“We kicked off the Advance Peace Pilot Program and that program aims to disrupt individuals who have the propensity or may end up on a trajectory of being shooters or getting shot,” Evan said.

The city has also used the Peacemaker Fellowship Program to encourage non-violence for people who spent time in prison for gun crimes. In addition, the mayor announced that the city is working to fix historic disinvestment in the city’s poorest neighborhoods including North Clinton Avenue which has struggled with gun violence.

Evan’s noted that there’s more work to be done but he’s hopeful for the future.

“We still have a long challenge to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We’re not happy. We need to get back to pre-2020 levels of violence.”

The latest move from the city came last week when Evans filed a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

Another goal for the new year is filling slots at the RPD as they have been short-staffed this year. The RPD has held recruitment events for the next generation of officers.

Evans has been in office for nearly a full year. He was sworn in at midnight on January 1 of 2022, succeeding former interim mayor James Smith and former mayor Lovely Warren.

You can watch the full conference from City Hall here: