Rochester activist pays tribute to son by leading new city department


ROCHESTER, NY – At the new Loretta Scott Center for Human Services is the Office of Neighborhood Safety, which was newly established by the City of Rochester to address violence in the city.

Dr Kiah Nyame is the coordinator in charge of the department, a role he was surprised to receive.

“I never thought I would be the office coordinator,” Nyame said. “But whatever I could do, volunteer or whatever to support this, that’s what I wanted to do.”

He says his office is not a law enforcement agency and misconceptions like paying criminals not to shoot themselves upset him. Instead, he says it is a resource center that the community can use in the aftermath of the violence.

“We live in a city where we have a lot of resources but they are in silos,” Nyame said. “A lot of different resource institutions don’t know about the other resource institutions. “

He welcomes the Peacemakers Fellowship to help gun offenders find another way forward.

“A lot of the young people I deal with today see no future,” Nyame said. “They don’t see a different trajectory in their life.”

And Dr. K knows this route better than anyone.

“I exhausted myself on drugs, as a way to cope every day,” Nyame said. “I have 11 holes in my body from four different shots. Literally friends died next to me.

In the 1990s, he got involved in activism and changed his life, earning a doctorate and even writing a book.

“I have to spend the rest of my life being part of the solution rather than the problem,” Nyame said. “And what it looks like right now is this office, but I can’t tell you about tomorrow.” “

But this new chapter in his life is also a tribute; in memory of his son, Jaquan Hill.

“I’m looking at it with a different lens now, but it still hurts,” Nyame said. “And it hurts a lot.”

In May, just days before the city announced the creation of the ONS, the 25-year-old was shot and killed in an argument that shook Dr K.

“I felt like all the years I spent changing my life, being able to raise your voice, going to school and graduating from high school and getting on with it. ‘before to break the cycle of my family had been of no use. ” said Nyame.

But he overcame this pain and redoubled his efforts to fight against violence.

“It gave me enough strength to say that it might be a way to avenge my son,” Nyame said.

The office may have just launched this summer, but Dr K hopes it will be transformative.

Dr. Anderson always said, ‘Come, unity,’ come into unity; this is community, ‘said Nyame.’ So don’t wear the same colors or walk the same steps, but know what are problems and use the resources at our disposal to solve those problems. “

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