Beacon event to focus on city’s homicide crisis

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Rochester had the highest number of homicides per capita in New York last year, and more than most big cities nationwide.

The murder rate rose as property crime fell in 2021. While homicides have surged nationwide as well during that period, the per-capita rate here has jumped higher than in Buffalo and Syracuse—and in big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston. 

With each homicide, the community faces these questions: “Why?” and “What is to be done?”

On Tuesday, May 10, the Rochester Beacon will hold a virtual event on Rochester’s homicide surge with four panelists who are working to address the issue in different ways.

■ Irshad Altheimer, director of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center For Public Safety Initiatives, a collaboration of RIT’s Department of Criminal Justice, the city of Rochester, and the criminal justice agencies of Greater Rochester including the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Crime Lab. Altheimer is an associate professor of criminal justice. His current research seeks to expand knowledge of dispute-related, and retaliatory urban violence.

■ Rafael Belliard, owner and operator of R&R Grab and Go and member of the North Clinton Business Association, whose eatery became part of a crime scene investigation and who is working with other business owners to confront the crime problem. 

■ Victor Saunders, special adviser to Mayor Malik Evans, who oversees the city’s violence prevention programs. Saunders is known for his work with Pathways to Peace, a street-level team that provides support and nonviolent alternatives for youth who are resorting to violence to settle disputes or becoming involved in gangs and drugs.

■ Rev. Lewis Stewart, president of United Christian Leadership Ministry, an ecumenical coalition of religious and civic institutions formed in 2013 to build a movement for justice and community transformation. Stewart has been actively involved in police-community relations. 

This event, slated for noon to 1 p.m., live on Zoom, is sponsored by Bond, Schoeneck & King. It is free to attend, but registration is required. You can register now.

The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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