Portrait of Loss

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Several months ago a Rochester woman was brutally killed by a mob of people – armed with hammers and knives – in broad daylight as she tried to protect her young daughter from a group of teens who had allegedly assaulted her. Latasha Shaw was left to die in the street as her three children, mother and sister all watched in horror. To this date no arrests have been made in Shaw’s case, as very few witnesses have come forward with information to the police.

Several days later, a beloved Rochester anti-violence activist was robbed, shot and killed over an iPod, cell phone and approximately $15 in cash. James Slater was the primary care taker for his elderly mother, and an active member of several anti-violence and community betterment groups in his neighborhood. He died just a few feet from his home, on the streets he fought so hard to keep safe.

The murders infuriated many in our community and sparked a series of marches, protests and rallies throughout the city. It also caused Mayor Bob Duffy to launch an aggressive “Zero Tolerance” anti-violence initiative. Now, several months later, the marches have stopped. “Zero Tolerance” is still in effect, but taxpayers and community members are looking to City Council and the Mayor’s office for more permanent sollutions.

As the dust has settled and the city returns to “life as usual” there still remain two families who are struggling to put the pieces of their shattered lives back together.

This week City newspaper ran a piece titled “Portraits of Loss” which talks about how the families have dealt with the loss of their loved ones. Latasha Shaw’s sister vividly recounts the incident and her sister’s last moments of life. It talks about how Shaw’s three children – having lost their primary source of income and care – have had to be split up and are now living with relatives in different states. James Slater’s mother also talks about adjusting to life without her son and primary care-giver.

This is one of the most heart-wrenching and compelling pieces of journalism that I have ever read. It not only reminds me of our the desperate need for Jesus’ salvation and peace on our city streets, but also the remarkable amount of destruction violence leaves in its wake. But ultimately it reminds me that we must continue to Pray for Rochester.

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