• Roc the Peace Fest raises awareness for victims of violence

    Share Button

    People in Rochester gathered in Jones Square Park Saturday afternoon for the sixth annual ROC The Peace Fest.

    Read more on WHEC.com

  • Setting The Tone Radio LIVE presents “Village”

    Share Button

    ROC the Peace founder Sirena Cotton sits down with Setting The Tone Radio™ LIVE to discuss this year’s July 18th event. She also addresses some pertinent issues facing the community. Cotton is joined in the discussion by fellow RTP volunteer and activist Carlos Quinones. He is a recording artist known by the monikers C-Lo Dubai and Upstate Original, from music collective H.E.X.X.

    About Setting The Tone Radio

    With thousands of listeners, STT Radio, known as “WSTT” aims to discuss national current events and local community issues alike. Visit settingthetoneradio.com for more information or to subscribe to weekly podcasts.

  • Annual ROC the Peace fest brings community together

    Share Button
    Excerpt courtesy of the Democrat & Chronicle
    Written by Carlos Quinones

    Growing up as a western New York native in the mid-1980s, I felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness and belonging that at times now seems missing in Rochester, and in larger society as well.

    With that in mind, the Roc the Peace fest — for the past five years — has become a key event for the community, drawing residents and groups from all economic walks and ethnicities, fostering goodwill and a commitment to nonviolence.

    Designed to bring awareness and resources to victims of violence, Roc the Peace began in earnest in response to a mother, Sirena Cotton, losing two sons to street violence. Cotton saw the value in bringing together mutually invested community groups and leaders to address a larger common interest; a common need.

    Read more on Democrat & Chronicle


    Grassroots Effort Brings Awareness and Resources to Victims of Violence

    Share Button

    Rochester, NY June 23, 2015

    ROC The Peace and Rise Up Rochester announces the staging of the 6th Annual Rise Up & ROC The Peace Fest to be held on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at Jones Square Park in Rochester, New York. Designed to bring awareness and resources to victims of violence and their families, this event is in direct response to a grossly disproportionate level of violence in the past few years.

    A day long event in the heart of the city, various community groups will be on hand presenting opportunities for educational enrollment, vocational training, free food and more. The chief of police and past and present Mayors have been regular attendees. Featuring events for the whole family, including speakers, singers,poets and dancers, this year’s keynote speaker is Amen Ptah and features national recording artist HEXX. In addition, ROC The Peace was started by Sirena Cotton in 2008, a year after she lost her 16­yr old son to a senseless murder in Rochester.

    To honor her son’s memory, Cotton started a rally called ‘Peace for Chris Fest’ which was later renamed ‘Roc the Peace’ to honor all victims of any type of inner­-city violence. Cotton later partnered with Rise Up Rochester, Incorporated, a 501c3 nonprofit that empowers the community to establish and maintain a nonviolent culture and provides support to crime victims and their families.

    Media contact: Antonia Wynter

    Email: business@rocthepeace.org

    Telephone: 585­-708­-9787

    Website: ​rocthepeace.org


  • 6th Annual Rise Up & ROC The Peace Fest Scheduled for July 18

    Share Button

    Event brings awareness and support for victims of violence and their families

    January 5, 2015 (Rochester, NY) –ROC The Peace and Rise Up Rochester announces the staging of the 6th Annual Rise Up & ROC The Peace Fest to be held on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at Jones Square Park in Rochester, New York. Continue Reading

  • ROC The Peace Launches #IamROChappy Campaign

    Share Button

    sc_adam-mcfadden-rtp-fest-2014Today is not only a day to celebrate our country’s independence, but the first day Roc The Peace launches it’s online multi-video “I am ROC Happy” campaign. The campaign is aimed to help restore pride in Rochester, New York while promoting the 5th Annual Rise Up and Roc The Peace Fest scheduled to kick off on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

    “Happy” is an award-winning hit single from producer and pop artist Pharrell Williams. The infectious tune has attracted people of all cultures, capturing the top spot in over 20 countries worldwide. People all over have mimicked the music video, featuring common, “everyday” people walking to the tune. Roc The Peace’s rendition is no different, only customizing it to feature various areas of greater Rochester, New York.

    The videos feature volunteers of all ages, dancing, skating, walking, smiling with the idea that Rochester is made to live. “Your smallest contributions make a world of difference to your loved ones and to complete strangers,” explains Rochester native Tone Williams, a volunteer for ROC The Peace. “We are committed to restoring hope and pride in an effort to curb violence in our city.” The campaign is designed to inspire others to become more positively involved with the community and the successful turnout  demonstrates the effectiveness of the creative effort.

    ROC The Peace is an organization founded by Sirena Cotton, after her 16 year old son, Christopher Jones, was gunned down outside of his home in Rochester in 2007. Jones marked Rochester’s 52nd homicide that year. Since then, the name of the function has changed but the mission has not: to curb inner-city violence. Cotton is working diligently with other organizations such as Rise Up Rochester, a non-profit organization geared to uplift the city. The 5th Annual Rise Up and Roc The Peace  Fest will be staged on July 19th 2014, 12 PM at Jones Square Park. This year’s keynote speaker will be Hon Mayor Lovely Warren along with a performance by Michael Burton, 2014 Roc Awards winner for Best Male Gospel Artist. An afternoon lineup of local talent will showcase to include rap, poetry, dance, vocal artist comedians and more. As joint partners, Rise Up Rochester and ROC The Peace expect a record turnout this year and have prepared food, games, prizes and much more for this family oriented event.

    ROC The Peace is in part Toneee.com (web development, graphic design and social media marketing), Setting The Tone (marketing and project management), CROCK AV STUDIO (filming and production) and 12 Parks Studios (production). The “Happy” videos and more information regarding this year’s festival are available at rocthepeace.org/happy.


  • Grassroots organization sets happy tone

    Share Button

    Roc the Peace (rocthepeace.org) will be recording a citywide music video to raise awareness of its cause alongside Rise Up Rochester (riseuprochester.net) and Setting The Tone, from April 7-11, 2014. The video will use an award-winning single “Happy”, written and produced by national recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams. The single is already an Internet sensation with millions of views, especially since the launch of Williams’ website, 24hoursofhappy.com. Dubbed “I AM ROC HAPPY”, the video will mimic the official music video and feature the song repeatedly using seemingly everyday people. This version will use residents of Rochester almost exclusively. The video is slated to film in popular neighborhoods and government buildings and small businesses such as City Hall, Avenue D Recreation Center and Unkl Moe’s Restaurant from Monday, April 7 through Friday, April 11, 2014. Those interested in performing on-camera are encouraged to complete the online application available at bit.ly/roc-happy-app.

  • Who’s on-stage this weekend? (Sat Jul 23, 2011)

    Share Button

    We are happy to announce our line-up on Saturday, July 23, 2011. Will you ROC THE PEACE with us?

    We are happy to announce our line-up for Saturday, July 23rd, beginning at noon at Jones Square Park. There will be dozens of public officials, dancers, singers and rappers this year! RTP 2011 kicks off at 12 PM and lasts until 6PM.

    A more detailed schedule is available here.

  • City shootings down in first 6 months

    Share Button

    The first six months of 2011 — roughly the first of Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard’s tenure as chief — were unusually nonviolent compared to other years.

    Sheppard announced to City Council last month that shooting victims are down 40 percent compared to the first six months of a typical year. There have been 14 homicides, while there usually are about 20 by this time.

    And we are on pace for a year similar to 2009 when there were 13 homicides by early July and Rochester ended the year with 28 homicides, the second lowest number of killings since 1985.

    Sheppard has been wary of attributing the drop to any single factor.

    To be sure, the wet, cold spring played a role — “Rain, rain, rain, let it come, I like snow,” Sheppard half-joked last month.

    But he, like others in the community dedicated to curbing violence, sees something else happening, too.

    Sheppard said the main focus of his first few months has been to engage his officers in the communities they are patrolling to create bonds between the officers and residents.

    He has instructed rank-and-file cops — not just supervisors — to attend monthly citizen meetings to hear complaints and issues for themselves. He has held “Chief on the Street” meetings across the city during which people can have his undivided attention for five minutes at a time.

    And he thinks he has proof the community is responding.

    “Most of our arrests are the result of somebody saying, ‘This is what I saw. This is the car they got into. This is what I know in terms of that crime,'” he said.

    “The bottom line is we can’t do it alone. We’ve known that, we’ve preached that. The reason this stuff doesn’t happen out in the ‘burbs is because people know, you do something out in the ‘burbs and somebody is going to tell.

    “People think there is some magic to making arrests and solving crimes. There is no magic,” he said. “The magic is in the people.”

    Community steps up

    Coming off a few years when the clearance rate for homicides was at a historically low 30 percent to 40 percent, at least eight of this year’s 14 homicides have been solved, in large part because of help from the community, Sheppard said. While announcing the murder arrest of Jyquale Thomas in January, Sheppard said a deeper level of community involvement helped investigators solve the first four killings of the year.


    n the case of Thomas, who is the suspected gunman in the fatal shooting and robbery of Broderick Howard, Sheppard said several witnesses came forward to identify Thomas and his codefendant, Carlton E. Dixon, who was charged with criminal facilitation for his role in robbing Howard.

    Thomas is accused of shooting Howard in the forehead with a sawed-off shotgun. Dixon is accused of driving Thomas to and from the scene.


    More recently, Sheppard credited citizen cooperation with the June 2 arrest of an Irondequoit man believed to have committed a string of robberies in the North Winton Road area.

    Sheppard said investigators believe Daniel Bovee, 36, robbed a CVS Pharmacy on North Winton Road and committed a number of other robberies of businesses.

    “When that happened we had dozens of phone calls, people telling us ‘I know who that was, I know who that was. It was Bovee,'” Sheppard said.


    And more recently was the arrest of Tomias Shaw, 22, of Velox Street, charged with first-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

    Shaw was arrested last month in part due to help from witnesses at the scene of the crime, which occurred about 3 a.m. June 5 on Monroe Avenue.


    He is accused of using a black 9mm handgun to fire five shots at a group of men with whom his friends had been fighting — three times hitting Robert Forbes.

    Shaw pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last month and his bail was set at $50,000. He is still in jail and his case has gone to a grand jury.


    Forbes, 25, is the brother of 2007 homicide victim, Christopher Jones, then 16, and 2008 shooting victim, Mace Forbes, 27, and the son of Sirena Cotton, who is planning a peace festival called Roc the Peace, scheduled for later this month.

    Sheppard credits that type of attitude toward standing up to crime — and a renewed focus on violence intervention — with loosening the grip of the deeply entrenched “no-snitch” culture in Rochester.

    “We’ve got to let people know that that type of retaliation, in terms of people telling us something about a crime and someone coming back on them, is very rare,” Sheppard said.

    “And we’ve got to follow up and let people know that we will protect them.”


    Operation SNUG


    The drop in violence likely also stems from a renewed emphasis on quick intervention, and the city’s Operation SNUG-Rochester program, which went fully online at the end of last year.

    SNUG — “guns” spelled backward — replicates CeaseFire Chicago, a program credited with reducing shootings and killings by nearly 75 percent in many parts of Chicago, and reducing retaliatory murders by 100 percent in many neighborhoods there.

    Six high-intensity intervention case workers, paid for by a $500,000 grant from New York state, target gun violence in the northeast and northwest neighborhoods with the most persistent problems of violence.

    In some of the neighborhoods targeted by SNUG, violent altercations were at a 10-year low, said Victor Saunders, director of the city’s violence prevention and intervention team, Pathways to Peace, who also oversees SNUG.

    “The efforts of law enforcement, along with relying very heavily on us for intervention and prevention to deal with a lot of these disputes and bring them to a peaceful resolution instead of just going in and arresting everyone, has helped tremendously, has shown a marked success,” Saunders said.

    Like Sheppard, Saunders said he senses a change in the community’s willingness to help solve crimes.


    So far this year, three guns have been turned in to Pathways, and another has been turned in to SNUG.

    Gun collection is not an aspect of either program and most years one or two guns at the most might be turned in.


    Despite the drop in violence, City Council is proposing to cut one of Saunders’ four full-time Pathways youth intervention specialists and two part-time specialists. Council has occasionally criticized the group because it is difficult to quantify their success.

    Sheppard, though, praised Pathways’ efforts, and Councilor Adam McFadden said it would be a mistake to cut Pathways staff considering its success across the city.

    “I’m pushing to keep them whole,” McFadden said of Pathways. “There’s merit to having a group like Pathways to deal with the population of young people who are fighting in our communities at places like the Liberty Pole and the beach.”

    In addition to the proposed cut to Pathways, the state money that supports SNUG-Rochester was a one-time grant and likely would not be reallocated to Rochester again.

    Whether or not his budget is cut, Saunders said his group will continue in its mission.

    “We are not going to let it stop us from the doing the work we do in this community,” Saunders said.

    His goal of violence reduction is both professional and personal, as several of Saunders’ friends and family members have been victims of street-level, conflict-generated violence.

    That includes three of his nephews: Christopher Jones, and Mace and Robert Forbes.

    [Provided by Democrat & Chronicle]
  • Wegmans supports the fight against violence

    Share Button

    We want to thank Wegmans on East Avenue for supporting our rally on Saturday, July 23, 2011 at Jones Square Park. They have provided an in-kind donation and we truly appreciate their support and efforts!

    Wegmans Food Markets is a successful U.S. regional supermarket headquartered in Gates, New York. Since 1916, it has offered dazzling displays of fresh produce, artisan breads and other baked goods hot from the oven several times a day. Displays of fresh-caught seafood, meat, deli products and imported cheeses, international foods—plus all the groceries and household items usually found in supermarkets.

    Roc The Peace will take place on Saturday, July 23, 2011 between 12 PM and 6 PM at Jones Square Park, 170 Saratoga Avenue, Rochester, New York. The event will feature local artists and public speakers, with a cause to impede violence in metropolitan Rochester.

Page 2 of 912345...Last »