By David Kramer Published on August 24, 2015 www.democratandchronicle.com
This post is somewhat different from my previous Unite Rochester posts. Given the recent shootings at the Boys & Girls Club, of which I have written, I am inviting the South District (which includes Genesee Street) Green Party candidate Alex White to present some ideas on how he would address the pressing issue of urban violence.
This is not an endorsement for his candidacy. (Actually, I do not live in Rochester and could not vote for White.) Over the years, I have known White as a thoughtful and informed citizen and candidate. Recently, I have admired how he gave heartfelt support to the community. As White made clear, he would make these proposals even if not running for office. He hopes whoever wins considers implementing serious policies for violence reduction.
I welcome Adam McFadden to also participate in this Unite Rochester blog.
In light of the recent violence in Rochester, we owe it to our young people to develop and implement plans to reduce violence in our city. Rochester is not the only city facing gun violence, but others are using creative ways to deliver results. Oakland in particular has had success with elements of their Measure Y initiative. By looking at programs in many cities, I can envision a blueprint to restore peace to the streets of Rochester.
First, we need communication between recreation, violence reduction, policing, mental health services, educational services, and employment services. Next we need to do much more street outreach, by people who understand the neighborhoods and the problems faced by people there. These outreach workers will put individuals in touch with the specific assistance they need by connecting them to the appropriate services. We also need to have interventionists ready to deal not only with problems between individuals, but also between services and individuals. Most importantly, we have to commit the funds required to provide the jobs and services most needed in our most troubled neighborhoods. Only in this way, will we get the message to our troubled young people that we care and we have their backs.
It is crucial that we remember we will not see change in our neighborhoods over night. Nonetheless, we can not keep waiting while more young people are shot, arrested, and die. Sure, this might take a significant commitment from the city, county and state, perhaps in the neighborhood of $20 million a year for a decade, but can we really afford to continue going the way we are? It is time to look at the programs cities like Philadelphia, Oakland, and Highpoint NC have used with some success because right now we have a shooting in Rochester every 32 hours and time is ticking.