Approximately 100 people gathered outside in Saturday afternoon’s heat, determined to send a clear message to the greater community: Stop the violence.
While some marched, others drove through various neighborhoods in Albany, pausing at memorial sites for recent shooting victims along the way.
There has been a string of shootings in the city within the past month, including one which claimed the life of 15-year-old Destiny Greene. The increase in violence has prompted city officials to seek additional assistance from other area law enforcement agencies.
Unfortunately, even with the increased police presence, the shootings have not stopped.
Members of the Capital Region Care Coalition decided to take action by marching and making a plea to the community’s residents to end the violence in their neighborhoods.
The group met and started its march at Swinburne Park, making its way to Ontario Street, First Street, Lexington Avenue, Central Avenue, Lark Street, Madison Avenue and then Grand Street, chanting “No justice, no peace, get these guns up off our streets.”
Both march participants and bystanders believe that in order for the violence to stop, city officials need to pool money into resources for the community that not only give kids a place to go, but also address systemic issues in the city’s neighborhoods.
According to Tom Mueller, a community activist with the Capital Region Cares Coalition, which hosted Saturday’s event, some of those resources include a community center and services for childcare, mental health and addiction.
Mueller, who has lived in the area for 22 years, said “the violence has always been bad. Coming out of COVID it’s been worse.”
Lyrice Money was just finishing a DoorDash delivery when she noticed an unmarked police vehicle parked near First and Quail Streets just outside the Mr. Sam Food Market, where one of the recent shootings occurred. She said she was happy to see the community coming together to address the violence.
“I love when we get together as a community,” she said. “We definitely need to stick together.”
While she said she wanted to see more community involvement after this — more barbecues and get-togethers, she also added that she wants to see more programs and places for kids to go so they aren’t in the streets.
When she first moved to the area 25 years ago, Money said she remembered bringing her kids to a Saturday program at a church on First Street, a resource that is no longer available. While she thinks that a program that teaches children various trades would be ideal, she said she didn’t care what it does, just as long as it provides kids in the neighborhoods with somewhere to go.
Donnell Joseph, a member of the Albany Violence Prevention Task Force who was participating in the march, had a different perspective. He said teachers, parents and religious leaders not only need to demonstrate to kids that they can think and make decisions for themselves, but also need to help them understand any consequences of their actions.
“It’s not the problem with police here, it’s poor leadership,” he said.
The only way to change that, Joseph explained, is for kids to realize they have to lead themselves and not follow whatever culture is in front of them — to not follow a culture of violence and guns.
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