Residents of Rochester, New York, stepped up last week to draw attention to the massive spike in violence and homicide in the area, blasting left-wing Black Lives Matter activists for ignoring crime when it doesn’t involve police.
“If the police were killing us at the rate we’re killing ourselves, I suspect this town would be on fire,” said Rudy Rivera, CEO of Rochester’s Father Laurence Tracy Advocacy Center on North Clinton Avenue.
Rochester’s homicides have exploded this year, nearly tripling the number of murders recorded last year at this time, Spectrum News reports.
Two weeks ago, Rochester man Markese Estimable, 33, was killed outside the Advocacy Center.
“Twenty to 30 people there. This man dying on the floor. People walked by him like he was a cigarette butt,” Rivera recalled, according to WHEC News. “They robbed the young man. People took selfies while the man was dying. The man reached out but nobody paid attention. And that level of depravity, for the people who live here, should not have to endure.”
Rochester resident Ida Perez echoed Rivera’s concerns.
“I worry every time I leave my house and when I’m coming home and have to turn the corner of Scramtom if I’m going to be one of those people in the crossfire,” she said.
Rivera noted the protesting he saw this summer in response to the death of a black man named Daniel Prude following a police interaction. The activists who sparked the protests — and many nights of subsequent destructive, violent rioting in the city — are now nowhere to be found as murder continues to spike.
“When we kill ourselves, I say to myself, where are the protests lining this street?'” Rivera questioned activists. “Where are the people within our own community, who know what’s going on here? And that’s the most tragic part of this whole story, everybody knows what’s happening here, and yet, it persists.”
“Where are the voices” of the activists who held press conferences nearly every day over officer-involved incidents, Rivera asked.
Notably, Rochester anti-police activist Ashley Gantt, co-leader of Free the People Roc, made waves last summer when she said she did not “care if the whole city burned down.” The Daily Wire reported:
“If there was looting, if there was things on fire, that is not what is important. What is important is why these things happen,” Gantt said, telling the media they have a job “to make sure that’s the story that’s heard.”
She referenced the riots that swept metropolitan areas across the country the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. died, noting that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed just months later.
“I am just tired of you guys not putting the correct narrative out there,” she said. “I don’t care if the whole city burned down. We need justice.”
Gantt later attempted to soften her remarks, saying that “of course” she does not want people to set the city on fire, but she does want people to understand that when it comes to “sustainable change, sometimes we have to do whatever it takes to get it.”
A reporter asked Rivera specifically about the absence of Gantt’s organization over this violence. The Rochester leader said that is his question, too. “Why aren’t you here?” he said.
Rivera also notably called for more police action to secure the city, asking officers to get out of their vehicles for more foot patrol, a request that flies in the face of BLM demands.