Residents along North Clinton Avenue joined with others from around Rochester on Tuesday evening to say “no more” to the heroin epidemic they said is concentrated in the blocks around St. Michael’s church.
Demonstrators stood side-by-side down two-and-a-half blocks of North Clinton Avenue, from Clifford Avenue to Hoeltzler Street, aiming to disrupt the drug sales they say happen there daily.
It was planned as a silent protest, but occasional chants of “No más!” broke out along the line of demonstrators.
Ida Perez chairs the Scrantom Street Block Club, a neighborhood group, and she lives about two blocks from the church. She was at the demonstration with her 11-year-old granddaughter.
“She’s seen some things that she shouldn’t, growing up in this neighborhood and being out on this street,” Perez said. “We’re here to send a message: We can no longer be neglected by business owners, by city officials, by the county. Everybody needs to know what’s happening here.”
On a typical Tuesday evening, Perez said, the street would be rife with people buying, selling and using drugs. “You’ll see people parked, either on this street or the side streets, injecting themselves, because they’re so desperate that they can’t wait to get home to do that,” she said.
Perez said the neighborhood has become the epicenter of Rochester’s opioid crisis, with more than 300 overdoses last year within a mile of St. Michael’s church. But she said it’s not just residents of the neighborhood who are falling victim – “most of the people who buy here are not from this neighborhood,” she said.
The victims of the opioid epidemic around North Clinton Avenue “could be your brother, could be my nephew, could have been anybody,” said Perez.
Angel LeBron, a pastor who lives on the same street as Perez, said the epidemic is not new in his neighborhood, but the severity is. “It’s gotten worse, and worse, and worse as time has gone by," he said. "It’s about time that people stand up for their neighborhood and say, even in a silent demonstration, ‘We’re tired of it. No more.’ ”