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Activists gather in wake of West side violence

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WBFO File Photo
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The Stop the Violence Coalition appeared in the Black Rock-Riverside neighborhood on Tuesday. Hours earlier at a location just a few blocks away, a major brawl broke out involving dozens of people and baseball bats.

Though the coalition's rally in the neighborhood was previously scheduled, the timing proved fortuitous.

"I just want to get to the bottom of it because the overwhelming majority of the people that live here are good, decent, solid people," said Council Member Joseph Golombek of the brawl which tool place near the intersection of Tonawanda and Hamilton.

Some say as many as 80 people were involved in the fracas.

The incident highlights the need for public and private groups to take action against neighborhood violence. Roshelle Roberson, pastor of Shining Light Apostolic Ministry, is working to address that need. She and her husband  Kervin try to provide a calming presence in the neighborhood. They greet Riverside students as they walk to and from school. 

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"What we want to do is create an atmosphere that will allow children to say: You know what, I'm hurting. You know whatever it is, feel free to express yourself," Roberson said.

It was a busy day for the Stop the Violence Coalition. The group had run out of money as of July 1, but the Common Council on Tuesday approved a new $150,000 contract to allow the group to continue its work in the city of Buffalo.

"Our numbers were high before with homicides and shootings and, this year they're kind of down,"reported Murray Holman, the coalition's executive director.

"The pressure of last year is better than what it used to be. It takes a couple of knuckleheads to throw it off but I think we're doing much better than we did last year, I used to be at funerals every, what, 5 days last year."