Just another example of the media stirring the pot just to get a news story? We call it Media Vigilantism!
By Amanda Ciavarri
It's a story that's gotten so much attention since News10NBC first brought it to you last week. Convicted sex offenders are quietly being moved into group homes and residential areas.
Now, one area community is fighting back.
Hundreds of people were out in force Saturday, trying to get their message across.
That message is to keep those sex offenders out of the group homes and away from neighborhoods where they could pose a threat to families that live nearby.
News10NBC was at that rally in West Seneca Saturday.
Dozens of people in West Seneca came out to protest. They brought signs to the front of a group home where the state recently re-located seven convicted sex offenders. Now the community wants to know, why they weren't told and why the state is putting them in danger.
"Everyone was blindsided by this. I think that is what everyone is the most upset about. No one knew anything and now it is a matter of, okay, we have calmed down from the lack of notification, now we want action. We want these guys out of here, we want them moved out. We aren't going to be held prisoners in our own home,” said Tony Fischione, protest organizer.
- The only person that is holding you prisoner in your own home is yourself!
About 300 people met at Sunshine Park Saturday afternoon. It is a popular playground for neighborhood children, but now it is just a few yards away from where seven sex offenders are living.
“I don't feel safe, and my kids can't come here and play in this park anymore, because the houses back right up to this park. There are running trails in those woods, and I can't run those. I don't feel safe letting my kids around town anymore,” said Teri Bebak, resident and mother.
This group then started their peaceful march down the street and to the two homes where the sex offenders are living.
The seven sex offenders, all men, previously lived in the Monroe Developmental Center in Brighton. The state closed the facility in December, and that's when those men were moved in here.
Their convictions range from attempted rape to child sex abuse.
“I think Governor Cuomo made this decision as a political move, to save money. He did it very secretly, he did it very quietly, and he did it at the expense of our children, and that's not okay,” said Bebak.
Earlier this week News10NBC asked Governor Cuomo about the relocation and told him about the concerns of this community.
“How was it that one day they were in need of that type of security, and the next day they are able to live in these types of group homes?” asked News10NBC’s Brett Davidsen.
“If a person requires a secure facility, they require a secure facility. But the problem we’re having by in large is not a person who is in a secure facility. The problem we’re having are former sex offenders while released and return to the community, and people are saying ‘I don’t want to live next to a former sex offender.’ That’s the predominance of the problem,” said Gov. Cuomo.
- The problem is the online registry, community notification and residency laws!
But this group isn't so convinced that's true, and they hope Governor Cuomo, and Albany hear their message loud and clear.
“I intend to let them know, we aren't done here. We are watching them. We aren't leaving, they are leaving,” said Fischione.
Many people plan on protesting every weekend until the state moves the sex offenders out of this community. If that doesn't happen soon, they will also take the protest to Albany in April.