Local Civil Rights Leader Says Police Anti-Violence Plan May Increase Racial Profiling
One local religious leader says police must use caution when looking to curtail gun violence in the community.
Reverend Lewis Stewart is the president of the United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York. He says national, regional, and local steps need to be taken to get illegal guns off the streets of Rochester, but police officers must avoid using excessive force..
"Racial profiling and spot and frisk is going on already. So if you’re talking about increasing this and going after illegal guns, we have to be cautious. We need to go after illegal guns, but we have to be careful in avoiding the violation of people’s civil rights," says Stewart.
Stewart’s comments come after police union president Michael Mazzeo called for a police plan to anti-violence late last week. The reverend warns against any plan that might lead to more racial profiling on Rochester's streets.
Stewart says it’s time the community takes the lead. He plans to work with the Rochester School District to give young people alternatives to crime.
"We need to look at re-implementing a vocational skills and training curriculum in auto mechanics, in carpentry, in roofing, in plumbing, etc. in order to give some of these kids who are not going to go on to college a skill so they can earn a decent living," says Stewart.
The religious and civil rights leader wants to see more gun buyback programs to take illegal weapons off of the streets.