POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- More than 30 Poughkeepsie residents, including Mayor Rob Rolison, took part in what community organizers are hoping are infrequent marches in response to two shootings in the city within three days, including the shooting Wednesday of a Poughkeepsie High School student.
Both shooting victims remain hospitalized.
The goal of the march was to let the community know that gun violence is not okay and encourage them to take a stand against it, said Danny Hairston, coordinator for SNUG, which organized the march.
Implemented in May, Wednesday's march was the first for the organization which is part of Family Services’ SNUG program, or "guns" spelled backwards.
The program works to identify youth most at risk for being involved in gun violence and intervene before the worst happens, Hairston said.
They do so by using "interrupters" who have done time in jail, used guns, or lived a life of violence in the past. The type of people who can easily identify those at risk and hopefully, direct them away from thinking guns will solve their issues.
The program is solely focused on gun violence and putting an end to it. They will help kids in need if they come and ask for the help, but solving life's issues is not their goal, Hairston said.
"If one of them comes to us and wants help going to college," he said. "We will find the right help for them. Or if they have other problems we will direct them to people who can help. But that's not our focus. Our focus is stopping the violence in our city with guns."
The group will hold a march or vigil every time a person is wounded or killed by gun violence in Poughkeepsie, he said. They also plan to hold community events so residents get to know them and what they are about.
Last Saturday, the program held a cook-out with giveaways in a local park for residents.
"We will always be out doing something, looking for kids and teens that we can hopefully direct away from gun violence," he added.
City of Poughkeepsie Police Detective Lt. Matt Clark said at this time the department doesn't believe the two shootings are related.
The first shooting on Sunday occurred on North Clinton Street where a man was shot twice. The second shooting took place Wednesday on Talmadge Street where the high school student was shot once in the neck. Both are still being treated at local hospitals.
Clark said on Thursday the department has not made any arrests and asks for anyone with information to call the city police TIP line at 845-451-7577.
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