Recently, there have been many acts of senseless violence in our community, like the recent brutal murder of Tracy Henton-Williams.
Tracy, and her sister, Alia, both worked for Camp Good Days for a time, and Alia was our first coordinator of the Partners Against Violence Initiative. They knew firsthand the impact that senseless violence could have on a family, because they lost their younger brother, Ralik, after he got caught in the crossfire of a shooting between two gangs. Their mother and father are two of the finest people I have had the opportunity to know.
Tracy’s murder is a reminder to me that as the weather is changing and the temperatures are rising, unfortunately so too does crime and violence. Everyone is coming out of hiding now that the cloudy, cold and overcast days are hopefully behind us and people are spending more time outside. It is imperative that we all work together to keep this summer a peaceful one in Rochester.
I think we can take a giant step forward to accomplishing this, if we keep in mind a few things.
We all need to listen to what our mothers used to say to us when we were younger, and that is to obey the golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated. Everyone needs to be respectful and talk to others civilly, and remember that words can be just as hurtful as physical harm.
Those among us who are both law-abiding citizens and gun owners must realize that guns need to be kept locked up when they are not in the gun owner’s possession. They need to be kept in a safe place, so that they cannot be easily stolen if someone breaks into a house or automobile. What we found through Project Exile, that I have been fortunate enough to be chairman of for the past 19 years, is that close to 40 percent of the crime guns used in our community originate from right here, where they are stolen, and not from outside our area and faraway places.
We need to practice what was said ever since 9/11 to help combat terrorism — if you see something, say something. It is up to us as a community. If we know of someone who is in possession of a gun who shouldn’t be, we need to let the proper authorities know. Those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military, those with a history of domestic violence and those who are on probation or parole are some of the people who should not have a gun in their possession. If someone has a gun in their home after the legal owner passes away, or has a gun that was brought home from military service and feels uncomfortable having the gun in the home, the authorities can be called to come and pick up the gun so that it is no longer a worry.
It will take all of our cooperation to make the summer of 2018 a safe one, but it is something that all of us should make an effort to do.
Gary Mervis is chairman of the Rochester Project Exile advisory board and founder of Camp Good Days and Special Times in Mendon.