New campaign against gun violence launches in Rochester

Jul 17, 2018

Rochester city officials announced the launch of a new campaign to eradicate gun violence Tuesday.

Mayor Lovely Warren and Councilmember Willie Lightfoot stood flanked by city and county law enforcement officials as they spoke about the creation of the #ThinkAboutIt campaign.

A coalition that Lightfoot formed last month, ROC Against Violence, will spearhead the campaign, he said.

Rochester City Councilmember Willie Lightfoot speaks at the launch of the city's #ThinkAboutIt campaign at City Hall.
Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Lightfoot said the initiative will encourage people to “begin thinking about the very real consequences of the split-second decision to shoot another human being.”

The coalition does not have a specific plan for its goal of eradicating gun violence. Instead, Lightfoot said, it will rely on community input to find ways to shift attitudes toward guns, with initial efforts aimed mostly at young people.

“We want to change the culture of gun violence in our community, and that’s done by reaching the next generation. So that doesn’t need a plan. We don’t need to go get statistics done; we don’t need to hire someone to go out and do a survey or to study this. We know what the problem is,” Lightfoot said.

Sirena Cotton lost her son to gun violence in 2007, when he was 16. She founded ROC the Peace after his death, and it’s one of the nine organizations in the newly launched coalition. Cotton said her group had been hoping for united action against gun violence for a long time. “This is what we’ve been working on and trying to do for years,” she said.

The coalition is funded with $5,000 from Lightfoot’s city council office.

The next meeting is set for 6:00 p.m. Aug. 15 at 244 S Plymouth Ave. Anyone can email Lightfoot’s legislative aide with suggestions for the campaign at andre.gulley@cityofrochester.gov.