Neighbors march against violence (January 10, 1998)

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Northeast Rochester streets have been plagued by deadly shootouts and drug trafficking recently.

– by Bennett J. Loudon –
Democrat and Chronicle.

Joy Powell stood at the corner of First and Bay streets yesterday afternoon shouting a plea for an end to the violence in her neighborhood.

“This is our neighborhood and we want our kids to be able to go out to the store without being scared they’re going to be brought down just because somebody got mad,” Powell hollered to anyone who would listen.

Standing with Powell were about 20 adults and children who began marching down First Street about 4 p.m. from Clifford to Bay chanting: “We for the pace. The violence must cease.”

Four days earlier, one man died in a shootout near the busy intersection in the northeast Rochester neighborhood.

One of the marchers was an 11-year-old boy who said he witnessed the shootout on Monday.

“I was scared. When they started shooting, it was dark,” the boy said, holding a banner at the front of the marchers.

“I thought I was going to get shot,” he said.

He saw 22-year-old Jeffrey Smith get fatally shot. Five days before, Smith had been released from a drug-treatment center.

“At first he didn’t fall. Then, after he saw the blood, that’s when he fell,” the boy said.

Two others were injured in the shootout that involved a total of six men.

The neighborhood has been plagued with shootings lately. Two young men were killed on Lewis Street just before Christmas. There was another shooting the same day on Weld Street.

In November, three men were shot within an hour of each other in two separate shootings. One was shot on Central Park Avenue. An hour later, two men were shot a few blocks away at First and Bay streets, where Powell called for peace yesterday.

“It’s getting out of control. It has to be stopped,” said Carmen Nunez, who lives on Rohr Street with five children.

Carolyn Reese and her 13-year-old daughter, Shonesha, also were marching with Powell.

“I came down because I’m sick of all this violence and drug traffic,” Reese said.

“It’s noisy and dirty, just look,” Shonesha Reese said, pointing to piles of trash near the curb on First Street.

She described the neighborhood as “scary.”

“You’re even afraid to sit by a window at night,” Carolyn Reese said.