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Residents call on council to help halt Hill violence

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Residents call on council to help halt Hill violence

Several community members called on city leaders Monday night to help improve living conditions in t
Residents call on council to help halt Hill violence
Kanema Haynes speaks at Monday night's City Council meeting about issues facing the Hamilton Hill community while Anthony Carota holds a sign expressing support for those affected by violence in Schenectady. (Brett Samuels/Gazette Reporter)

Several community members called on city leaders Monday night to help improve living conditions in the Hamilton Hill area following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old earlier this month.

A couple of days after the community rallied on Schenectady Street at a “Light the Street” event, about five residents spoke specifically to City Council members and Mayor Gary McCarthy about what can be done to stem violence in the area.

“This is devastating to our community,” one woman said, getting choked up as she recalled the life of Medina Knowles, who was shot and killed the night of Sept. 15.

Residents pointed to poor living conditions, poor lighting and a lack of after-school activities as areas they’d like to see the City Council address in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood.

Council members are expected to discuss the lighting issue and other problems during their committee meeting next week, but encouraged residents on Monday to communicate when they notice problems.

Knowles, who was a student at Schenectady High School, was the fourth homicide victim in the city this year, with the others occurring just blocks from where she lived at 524 Schenectady St.

At Saturday night’s vigil, community members called for an end to the violence. During the rally, some brought attention to how dark the street is. Residents on Monday said that the lights had since been turned back on.

Pierre Thompson, who helped organize Saturday’s event, said he appreciated that the lights are back, but said he wondered what would have happened if it had been done sooner.

Councilman John Polimeni said if lights aren’t working that needs to be referred to National Grid. He also stressed the importance of communicating with city leaders when there are problems so they can be addressed, citing the issue of some witnesses to crime not wanting to be considered snitches.

Other areas of concern raised by residents at Monday night’s meeting included the smell of sewage along Schenectady Street. Polimeni said he noticed during Saturday night’s rally that the sewers along the street were backed up, possibly because garbage had clogged them.

One woman said opening a community center in the neighborhood or offering additional after-school programs could help curb the violence.

“It’s important kids have somewhere to go after school other than hanging out on the streets,” said Kamena Haynes, drawing loud applause from about 20 people at the meeting.

Anthony Carota, a Schenectady resident, attended the meeting with a sign reading “Everybodies Lives Are Beautiful & Matters,” which he held up as he spoke to the council.

“Enough is enough,” he said of the violence in the city. “It’s time to start doing something for our youth.”

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