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Stop the Violence: Local Organizations Cry Out for the Community’s Help

By Tyronda James

ROC the Peace, Inc. members Danita Forney (left) and Sirena Cotton (right) express hurt over Rochester city violence.

Mothers, concerned citizens are tired of the constant violence in the city of Rochester. Violence is on the rise and the city of Rochester is currently up to its 15th homicide since 2021 began. 

Several community organizations recently came together and are saying, “Enough is Enough!” They are asking for help from the community and seeking solutions to the uptick in violence. 

“Because most homicides in Rochester are because of a dispute, we’re asking the community to partner with us to help resolve these disputes before it’s too late,” said Wanda Ridgeway, executive director of Rise Up Rochester, Incorporated. 

“Disputes without intervention often result in a casket or jail cell. This is a community problem, and it needs a community response. 

Rise Up Rochester joined with  Pathways to Peace and several other community activist organizations including Community Justice Initiative, Action for a Better Community’s Save Our Youth (SOY) as well as politicians and members of the faith based community. 

Representatives from the various organizations spoke on how saddened they are with homicides and shootings and pleaded for aid and answers from community and city leaders.

“It’s very important for our community to not come together but stand together in an attempt to curb the violence,” said Sabrina Lamar, Monroe County Legislator and Project Coordinator for RIT’s Community Engagement to Reduce Victimization program (CERV). “If we give up now, we will perish, and our children will, too.” 

The organizations are calling for volunteers, mentors, mediators and so much more. They are asking that the community step up and  commit time and talents. “We need you all,” Ridgeway said. “I stand with mothers and fathers, who have lost their children in these streets. We’ve gotta come together, we can’t do this by ourselves.” 

Sirena Cotton, founder of Roc the Peace, whose son was one of three murdered within 24 hours said anytime a young person is murdered it takes her back, “its like the murder just happened,” she said. “It hurts. All of these moms that’s going through the same pain. This is a constant everyday pain. …with all the murders. 

Cotton’s message to the community, “We need the violence to stop!”

Cotton said that she and a group of mothers, fathers and volunteers plan to do “random sit ins” and random walks, randomly picking locations throughout city neighborhoods.  

Cotton said they aren’t afraid to sit on corners and hot spots and walk neighborhoods. “We can’t sleep. We can’t rest. We can’t relax,” she said.

“Because we need it to stop.”

Pastor Melvin Cross Jr., senior pastor of Glory House International says his congregation is a youth engagement and violence prevention organization, who is also a part of the city’s Homicide Response Team. Cross said they are looking for preventative measures to prevent the violence that is happening in this city.

“We are invested in our community. We just want to be a part of the solution. We realize that we are not the sole solution to the problem that is happening in our city,” he said. “It’s literally going to take all of us for a solution to the violence.”

In addition to needing help and answers to combat the violence, the groups echoed the sentiment, “If you see something, to say something.” It’s going to take the community to rise up and commit, they say.

Lamar said violence has plagued this community for far too long. “We need to come up with solutions together, work together and move forward collectively,” she said.

“That is the only way we can make a true change!”

Contact Rise Up Rochester at or 585.454.3060.