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"Take Back Hamilton Hill" Anti-Violence Rally Tonight


A rally is scheduled for tonight in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood after the latest fatal shooting there.

Locals are taking to the streets to call for a halt to urban violence and to turn back a growing notion that Schenectady is a hotbed of criminal activity.

The march to combat the violence steps off at 6 p.m. in the 500-block of Schenectady Street, the site of two recent shootings, one of them fatal, in less than a week.  "Our young kids are dying and nobody's doing anything about it." Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association President Marva Isaacs adds "All are welcome."   "I'm hoping for all the pastors to come out here with us, I'm hoping that the neighborhood is gonna come out here, everybody, the mayor and everybody, city council, I need them out here, I need them to stand with us."

The association, along with the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights organization, is sponsoring the gathering.  Schenectady City Councilman at large Vince Riggi plans to attend.  "I think the march is gonna be symbolic to show that people are fed up and enough is enough. I've been in the city all my life, and I'm not a young person. As a matter of fact, Dave, our family business was located on Craig Street in Hamilton Hill. It's been slow in coming, but when these types of violent crimes continue without any real true public outcry, it seems to manifest itself where it is today, it's becoming like commonplace when you hear of people being shot dead on the street."

This past Monday, police were called to Schenectady Street to investigate the shooting of 18-year old Kusaan Tolliver, gunned down around 10 p.m. - his death occurring just four days after another man was shot in the buttocks near the same house around 10:30 a.m. Thursday. He survived. Police have beefed up patrols in the area. NewsChannel 13 talked to people sitting out on their porches Tuesday in the midday heat. They said they're sick of the violence but, according to the TV station, were too scared to go on camera.  Isaacs says Tolliver’s mother is among those expected to attend tonight's rally. "I went around to the neighbors. I went to the kid's mother that got killed, I went and talked to them, and it's all come together and we need to do this for the simple reason that it's been going on for awhile. And we need some closure. We need this to stop. I'm a grandmother. I'm a great-grandmother. And I lose my grandson two years ago - he was shot in Schenectady."

Riggi says the city council does talk about the shootings - and - personally, he wants the city to adopt a "zero tolerance policy." "I haven't been able to institute that as of yet, but I would like to see that, where even minor crimes are gonna be, people will be held responsible for those, and it just manifests itself into more and more violence, and it's a sad thing because Schenectady is still a good city. It has a lot of good people in it. We don't need people, a small percentage of our population, is now dictating what common behavior is, and that's not the way it's supposed to be. So I think this march tonight, and hopefully there's gonna be lots and lots of people there, and I'm hoping all the city officials for sure show up. It's gonna show that people are banding together to take back our city, not just Hamilton Hill."

Police continue to investigate the latest series of shootings.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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