Top officials and activists come together in gun violence forum


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Top officials, community activists and change-makers came together Wednesday afternoon with one goal: ending gun violence.

“We see you and we hear you. We are not going to allow this to go unheard and the needs to go unmet any longer, that’s not going to happen,” said Albany County Legislator Wanda Willingham.

Willingham said Wednesday’s meeting is just one step to a solution following a year where more than 100 people were shot in the City of Albany. 

“I have to tell you. It was just amazing listening to the contributions, the ideas, and it was very solution-focused, which is really what these convenings are throughout the state,” said NYS Children Family Services Commissioner Shelia Poole. 

Willingham and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan were among some of the people at the forum hosted by Governor Cuomo’s office. This was one of the first steps in the governor’s emergency gun violence declaration. 

“We also need to do a deep dive into the community. How do we find those youth? How do we build the trust so that they are participating in those programs?” Sheehan said.

Another step was taken on Wednesday: about $1.5 million will be given to Albany and Troy for job opportunities for at-risk youth. 

“It’s working with kids to create a vision for them where they can be productive, where they can earn a decent wage,” Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said. 

Madden is also looking at other sectors to prevent gun violence like health care, housing and child care. 

Willingham said whatever solutions may come; one thing must happen: 

“It has to be sustained. And if it’s not sustained, we’re going to find ourselves right in the same condition that we are right now,” Willingham said. 

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