By Tyronda James
Clay Harris, Uniting & Healing Through Hope of Monroe County founder, gathered with clergy, police officials and local government officials to continue their ‘Stop The Violence’ campaign and plea.
The group and supporters gathered on the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue where the September 2020 mass shooting happened. Jaykala Young and Jarvis Alexander lost their lives and 14 others were injured..
Harris made a plea for the city and county to come together with a city and county-wide anti-violence march and rally to follow on June 5. “Together We Can When We All Take a Stand” is the theme of the ‘Stop the Violence’ campaign.
“We want everyone to join us and take a stand with us. We need a lot of help from the community,” Harris said. “Whether you live in Pittsford or if you live on the south side of the city. Whether you live in Chili or the north side of the city, or Fairport, perinton, East Rochester, Penfield, Henrietta, Gates. …wherever you live. We want us all to come out and say enough is enough.”
The march for the city’s southwest side will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Thurston Road and Brooks Avenue at 10:00 a.m, assembling at 9:30 a.m. It will finish at West Main Street and Reynolds Street at 11:30 a.m..
The march for the city’s northeast side will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the David F. Gantt Recreation Center and assemble at 11:00 a.m. It will finish at Hudson Avenue and Clifford Avenue at 12:30 p.m.
After the marches there will be a rally at Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Park beginning at 1:30 p.m.
“We’re here to stop the violence. The senseless violence that has been ravaging our community, whether it’s the city, or the suburbs, villages, or towns. And we are coming together as a community and saying no more,” Harris said.
“Our young people and people are dying, being wounded and traumatized on a daily basis so we all need to come together.
Pastor Fred Johnson, of First Genesis Baptist Church said he was pastor to Young and her family said many in the community know the individuals that are perpetrating the crimes and ask that the community march and also come forward and share any information so as to make our community a viable place to raise families.
Johnson said that it’s not just up to the police, the city of Rochester and Monroe county. “But it is up to those who are part of the community to come forward and take back our families, take back our community and take back our livelihood,” Johnson said.
“We believe that the city of Rochester and Monroe county, has a viable, fruitful and productive future.”
District 22 Legislator and Minority Leader Vince Felder said he wants the community and the county to unify and really confront the violence and to do what we can to stop it.
He said he lives on the city’s northeast side on Upper Falls Blvd and gets concerned every time he hears police sirens and says his first thought is, “who got shot?” He said he’s spoken to concerned residents in his district and elsewhere, who are afraid to send their children outside to play.
“I think it’s gonna take everything. And I’m glad because they would get the county to be a part of this effort, because it’s important and it’s not just a city wide effort,”Felder said.
“We want to make sure that we can do everything we can to bring as many people as possible together in this effort to really stop the violence and really try to give our children a better outcome and a better future.
Van Henri White, president of the Rochester City School District Board of Education and an attorney, said the issue of violence won’t be solved seeing the same people in uniform and in suits. “We have to see other folks. We need to see other folks who are not wearing uniforms, who are not wearing suits, who are not coming from the pulpit. We need to see people in the streets, from their homes, from the neighborhoods, from the rec centers participate in this,” he said. “Because we will not solve this problem on the backs of police officers and preachers. This has gotta be done by parents, by teachers, by neighbors, by business people who have a stake in what is happening in our community.”
White said we have to do more than stand against violence, we have to take a step out of our homes and offices and into the streets against violence. “Not just take a stand, but step against it. Step up to the drug dealers. Step up to family members who would pull out guns. Step up to people who do not understand that we cannot fix what is wrong in our community by being in our homes and sitting down,” he said.
“Please take a stand and take a step against violence.”
For further information regarding the Stop The Violence campaign can be found at www.unitingthroughhope.com.