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Updated: 48 min 47 sec ago

Free the People Roc renews demands related to Daniel Prude's death

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 5:50pm
On the one-year anniversary of the day that the public learned of Daniel Prude’s death at the hands of Rochester police officers, a group of activists renewed the demands they’ve been making for the past 12 months.

RPD unveils new use of force policies

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 5:20pm
New standards for how the Rochester Police Department officers use force were released Thursday. These updates to department policy were sparked by public outcry over the last few years including an incident when police handcuffed and pepper sprayed a 9-year-old. While the new policy does not outlaw use of force on juveniles, it does restrict it, specifically mentioning use of pepper spray, batons, tasers or similar weapons unless the child is considered “a threat to an officer” or there are “no reasonable alternatives.” Rochester Police are also no longer supposed to handcuff people they believe are under 12 years old, unless they’re considered “a danger to themselves or others.” The policy for juveniles now includes a formal recognition that juveniles are still developing and their interactions with law enforcement will shape how they see and whether they can trust the police. When it comes to the rest of the population , officers will be required to use de-escalation techniques

Forum to focus on caregiving challenges, solutions

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 2:26pm
Whether they are paid workers or family members, people who provide care for older adults face numerous challenges, from physical burdens and economic hardships to loneliness and depression. More than one in five Americans act as a family caregiver, according to a 2020 report from the AARP Public Policy Institute, many of whom receive no compensation and must balance competing professional and personal obligations. Increasingly, caregivers are younger people and from diverse backgrounds, creating new hurdles for government and social welfare organizations trying to reach these individuals. To explore solutions for the complex issues that caregivers encounter, the New York & Michigan Solutions Journalism Collaborative is conducting a Caregivers on the Front Lines Public Forum at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 . WXXI News is a member of the collaborative. This free live, virtual event will be hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson and carried on Detroit Public Television’s

National Women's Hall of Fame postponing this year's induction ceremonies due to COVID concerns

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 1:04pm
The National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls is postponing this year’s induction ceremonies due to concerns related to inductees and guests having to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. A statement released by the Hall on Thursday said the decision was reached after conversations with inductees, and other stakeholders critical to the event’s success. The event was going to be held on Oct. 2, and this year’s inductees had included: Octavia Butler, Judy Chicago, Rebecca Halstead, Joy Harjo, Mia Hamm, Emily Howland, Katherine Johnson, Indra Nooyi, and Michelle Obama. The event has been postponed until Sept. 23-25, 2022. All tickets for the induction ceremony and gala will be honored at the rescheduled events. A statement from Induction Chair Kate Bennett and the hall's executive director, Jennifer Gabriel, said that for the next 12 months, the Women’s Hall of Fame will develop programming to celebrate and engage a broad, national audience “that can be inspired by these exceptional

Where the T-shirts are pricey -- but the pot is 'free'

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 9:18am
The store-branded T-shirts at HempSol CBD in Henrietta are pricey at $65 a pop, but the bag of marijuana that comes with them is complimentary. “That’s an expensive T-shirt, right?” a clerk said during a recent sale. “But, we give you a gift for free.” The “gift” was an eighth of an ounce of a pungent strain of weed called Rocket Fuel, known for its rapid and sedating high. Although using cannabis recreationally is now legal in New York, state law prohibits retail sales while legislators hammer out the infrastructure that will govern the regulated market, which is anticipated to be at least a year away. But that hasn’t stopped HempSol from putting marijuana into the hands of paying customers by taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows adults to transfer, or give, each other up to three ounces of the plant without compensation. The idea is that customers are paying for the T-shirt, not the weed. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. “This is one of those kinds of cute arguments that,

Seneca Falls unveils Justice Bell replica in honor of women’s right to vote

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 4:04pm
It’s a bell that rang out in 1920 when the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified. It's called the Justice Bell, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday celebrated the unveiling of its replica in Seneca Falls. “Just as the Liberty Bell is an enduring symbol of the American struggle for freedom, the Justice Bell is the struggle for women’s equality,” said Menzo Case, CEO of Generations Bank, which provided funding for the project. The half-sized replica is displayed temporarily outside of the Seneca Knitting Mill, which overlooks the chapel where the first women’s rights convention took place in 1848. There, two documents were adopted, including the declaration of sentiments that outlines the desired rights of female citizens in the U.S. “It took another 72 years and a tremendous amount of work by women and their allies to gain the support needed to bring this issue to the national forefront,” said Jennifer Gabriel, executive director of the Women’s Hall

Ex-police chief Singletary sues Warren, city of Rochester over firing

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 4:02pm
Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary is suing Mayor Lovely Warren and the city of Rochester over his firing last year. Singletary is seeking at least $1.5 million in damages for his termination and defamation of character. He is also seeking punitive damages. When asked, Singletary’s lawyers would not comment further. In a statement, the city said Singletary "failed in his duties as chief and was rightfully terminated." Singletary was fired last September, shortly after the death of Daniel Prude in police custody became public and sparked mass protests. Prude's death in March 2020 was largely kept quiet for nearly six months, until his family spoke to the media. Protesters and one of the investigations alleged a cover-up. In his complaint, Singletary alleges that Warren, and those acting on her behalf in city government, made false statements about his work and omitted information intentionally. He says he refused to lie for Warren, and that created a hostile work

Recovery advocates install emergency Narcan boxes around Monroe County, ask Hochul to sign state law

Tue, 08/31/2021 - 6:36pm
Opioid addiction recovery advocates are installing their own version of “break glass in case of emergency” at some businesses. A Boost Mobile phone store at 570 W. Main St. is the first to set up an emergency box stocked with Narcan, a nasal spray medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose. “We oftentimes see people shooting up outside,” said store owner Marcus Williams, who is also running for a Rochester City Council seat in November. “I saw someone a couple weeks ago almost overdose outside. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do anything at the time.” Advocacy groups Gates to Recovery and Mission Recovery and Hope are leading the initiative, which will target certain areas that have been the sites of previous overdose fatalities. According to Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode, in his jurisdiction, that often means hotels and convenience store parking lots. “This is just like a fire extinguisher,” VanBrederode said Tuesday. “When the fire starts, you go and get the fire extinguisher.

Millions available to help Monroe County renters affected by COVID-19

Tue, 08/31/2021 - 5:56pm
As New York state leaders plan to weigh an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium Wednesday, a Monroe County leader said they’re positioned to help residents with back rent. Thalia Wright, the county’s Department of Human Services commissioner, said that roughly $6 million in federal pandemic relief funds is available for renters through its Emergency Rental Assistance Program known as EPPI 2.0 . County Spokesperson Meaghan McDermott said the county expects another $20 million in federal money for the program. Roughly 8,200 people have applied, and Wright said they’ve distributed about $15 million to 3,500 renters so far. Another $12 million has been earmarked for applications that are pending. She said the county turns away one of every three of their applicants because they did not make it through the process. Once an application is started, Wright said the applicant’s landlord is notified and county representatives sort through the information provided. She said it takes

Bishop Salvatore Matano will submit letter of resignation as he turns 75

Mon, 08/30/2021 - 7:39pm
Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Rochester Catholic Diocese says that he will submit his resignation to Pope Francis in September. According to a letter to parishioners posted on Monday , Matano noted that in September, he will turn 75, and in accordance with Church law, he will submit his letter of resignation. Matano said that at that point, it is entirely up to Pope Francis regarding his acceptance of the resignation and when it will become effective. Matano noted that several other Diocesan Bishops in the United States are continuing past 75 years of age until the Pope appoints their successors. In terms of how much longer he would want to stay on, Matano wrote that, “I would hope to be able to see the Diocese through to the completion of the bankruptcy process, thereby relieving my successor of this painful situation.” Matano added that, “His will be the task of rebuilding and, I pray, a new time will dawn and this very sad episode of our diocesan history is passed, but always

Boys and Girls Club program closes the gap on diversity within tech industry

Mon, 08/30/2021 - 7:10pm
During a showcase at the Boys and Girls Club Digital Experience on Monday, 17-year old Tamiyah Simon explained the "slime" to Rochester Assemblymember Demond Meeks. "I thought it was just something you can make up at home, but there is actually a science behind it," Simon said. Just across the gym, 16-year-old Joshua Banda operated a robot that he programmed himself. He said he is interested in pursuing coding in the future. "Almost every technology that you use uses programming," Banda said. "Even refrigerators now use coding, so by having coding in your arsenal, I feel you will have a good and stable career." Nurturing good careers in tech is part of the goal of the AT&T and BGC digital experience. The program is designed to close the diversity gap in technology for students in underserved communities. It's also a partnership between AT&T and the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester. For two months, 40 local students participated in the free program, gained digital literacy

Calls for more tenant protections as eviction moratorium ends

Mon, 08/30/2021 - 5:05pm
Some Rochester housing advocates are asking city leaders to pass a bill with stronger housing laws. Local Bill 14 is composed of several different measures, including: Preventing landlords from evicting tenants if their property can’t pass a city inspection. Adding controls on how much rent can be increased. Giving renters a right to legal representation. Allowing renters to renew their leases whether their landlord wants them back or not. They would also like to see a cap on tax breaks for developers. During a news conference Monday, members of the Rochester City-wide Tenant Union said it's urgent that the city pass these new measures because protections for renters that were added during the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to expire this week. “This rental assistance is just a Band-Aid on a gushing wound,” said Ritti Singh, spokesperson for the Tenant Union. “The money we have does not meet the needs in Rochester; it's not enough.” Quiana Dunaway also spoke in support of these

RCSD aims to improve food service despite worker shortage

Sat, 08/28/2021 - 9:30am
Rochester City School District leaders are searching for cafeteria and kitchen employees as they work to improve the state of school lunches. When students returned to classes in the last school year, many complained about the quality of the food. The district switched vendors mid-year after prepackaged sandwiches with meat that looked odd to some people were provided by an out-of-town vendor. District Chief Operating Officer Mike Schmidt reiterated Friday, what the district said back in March: that the food was safe, even if it was unappealing. Schmidt said that vendor is long gone and the district expects to offer new options like salad bars, spaghetti and meatballs, and various types of burritos. While they plan to implement these changes as the year begins in September, Schmidt said they’re forced to deal with another problem: they’re short nearly 30 staffers. He said the district is working on contingency plans to make sure their food service staff can provide a meal to every

Kabul airport attack jeopardizes evacuation of Rochester-bound Afghans

Thu, 08/26/2021 - 6:05pm
A deadly attack outside Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Thursday disrupted evacuations of thousands of people seeking to escape after the Taliban takeover. The families of local Afghan residents were among them. For 24 hours, Walid Omid Habibi, a former translator who helped U.S. troops in Afghanistan and now lives in Rochester, had been on his phone communicating with his mother, wife, and three daughters. Since Wednesday, they had been outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul waiting to evacuate. “(For the) last 24 hours, I was awake. I didn't sleep. I was just busy communicating with my family through the phone and virtual platforms.” Habibi said. “I'm speechless to explain what I'm feeling right now. You know, my wife, my three children, my mother are (in hell) right now. Right now. I am here, very far away from them. I cannot do anything for them. The only thing that I can do is the phone call. I'm just talking with them. Nothing else.” Habibi and his father were

Small homeless encampment removed by city of Rochester

Thu, 08/26/2021 - 3:16pm
A city of Rochester bulldozer removed a homeless encampment Thursday on Loomis Street, near Joseph and Clifford avenues. Advocates from the nonprofit Recovery All Ways organization said nearby church leaders complained about the encampment. A statement from city spokesperson Justin Roj said they received complaints from multiple neighbors about debris, trash and evidence of drug activity. "The amount of debris and trash was so significant in some spots that the City could not get its equipment onto the lots," Roj in an email. "The owner of a private parcel was cited by the City’s Neighborhood Service Center for excessive trash and debris and failed to comply with orders to clean up the property within the allowed time frame, resulting in Environmental Services crews being ordered to perform the cleanup according to City protocol." Roj said residents of the encampment and the nonprofit Person Centered Housing Options (PCHO) were given multiple weeks notice of the removal. PCHO staff and

Health care workers rally for better pay

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 11:40pm
Patricia George loves her job as a home care aide, but she said most people don’t understand the importance of the work she does. “People think what we do is an easy job,'' George said. "We go into people’s houses, we go into the hospitals; we take care of these people. We make bonds with these people where they become like family to us.” George, who has worked in the care industry for 13 years, gets paid $12.50 an hour. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the combined median income for home health aides and personal care aides was $11.12 per hour. George is hoping to get more equitable pay -- and she’s not alone. She and other health care workers rallied Wednesday in Rochester to ask Congress to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act. If passed, the bill would invest $400 billion in home and community-based services. Kim Gibson, co-executive director of Healthcare Workers Rising, said these services give people a choice of care. She said their clients are worth the

High hopes for Hochul from leaders of major women’s institutions

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 5:47pm
“Another glass ceiling broken” is how the leader of the Women's Hall of Fame describes the rise of Gov. Kathy Hochul. Hochul took office Tuesday after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid several scandals, including allegations of sexual harassment against 11 women. Executive Director Jennifer Gabriel leads the Hall of Fame, which tells the stories of female leaders from around the world. When Gabriel was growing up, she said she didn’t see many women in prominent roles, and she didn't think she'd ever see a female governor in New York.

Afghans who helped U.S. troops struggle to resettle in Rochester

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 6:58am
For five years, as a seemingly never-ending war continued to ravage his country, Noor Sediqi worked as a translator helping U.S. troops in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Some days, Sediqi would translate at meetings. Other days, the stakes were higher when he went on missions with the U.S. Army. In June, as the war's end finally came into view, Sediqi, 34, was evacuated from Afghanistan through a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), along with his wife and children. They're now resettling in Rochester, but his parents and his six younger siblings are in Kabul. The move -- and that separation from loved ones -- has been hard on everyone, he said. “Culturally everything (here) was, is, difficult for us,” Sediqi said. “My kids were getting up in the middle of the night and they were calling my parents, my brothers.” Sediqi is one of many Afghans who helped U.S. troops in Afghanistan and are now making Rochester their new home, but while they’ve managed to escape persecution by the Taliban, their future

RIT, Gillibrand seek increase in federal funding for inclusive cybersecurity program

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 5:34pm
In her first trip ever to Rochester Institute of Technology/NTID, U.S Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced a large investment to help diversify the growing field of cybersecurity. According to the latest data from the US Department of Commerce’s cyberseek.org , there are nearly a half-million job openings in cybersecurity across the country. Gillibrand wants some of those opportunities to go to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Flanked by RIT’s leadership on Monday, she called for an $8 million increase in federal funding for the college in this year’s budget, which is being negotiated now. If included in the budget, the university’s total federal allocation would add up to $89.7 million. Gillibrand, who recently joined the U.S Senate’s Intelligence Committee, said this kind of long-term investment is about national security. “Federal support makes this education accessible to students across the country and helps NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) meet the evolving

Plenty of options for first-time homebuyers

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 4:14pm
Know what you don’t know -- and know that it's likely a lot. That’s what Lanie Bittner, a Realtor and the president of the Greater Rochester Realtors Association, tells her first-time homebuyers. In a normal year, first-timers make up about a third of her clients. But not this year.