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Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin hosts gun violence roundtable in Rochester

Lt. Govenor Brian Benjamin met with local leaders to address gun violence in Rochester
April Franklin
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin met with local leaders to address gun violence in Rochester on Wednesday.

Rochester youths, resources for mental health, and the formerly incarcerated were top of mind for Mayor Malik Evans and over a dozen local leaders who met with New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin on Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Club in Rochester.

The meeting is a part of a series of roundtables being held in cities across the state to address the issue of pipeline of guns into communities.

After the hourlong meeting, Benjamin told reporters that he would ensure that some of the $170 million in workforce development funding make its way to the Rochester region.

He said the state has historically invested in law enforcement to address gun violence, but officials want to find a solution by working with people closest to the problem.

"Too many young people who can be incredible, incredible messengers in our communities, young people influencing young people who we can be employing and helping educate us," said Benjamin.

He said peer culture is driving some of the concerns they see on the streets, and they will invest more in programs that create meaningful opportunities.

"For some of our children, they don't have the parental infrastructure, they don't have a school infrastructure, they don't have some of the support systems that they need to say, there's an alternative, that's better," Benjamin said.

Evans thanked Benjamin for his commitment to investing in Rochester's youths, because he said they are disproportionately getting killed by gun violence.

"We've taken in Rochester alone in my first 73 days, about 127 guns off the street, said Evans.

Benjamin said roundtables discussion are being held in preparation for the upcoming executive budget due on April 1.

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.