SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — This year, Bishop H. Bernard Alex became president of the Syracuse chapter of the civil rights organization National Action Network. Locally the group is working to address the violence in Syracuse.

“We’ve got to make the change,” Alex said. “That is what NAN is committed to doing. Keeping people at a place of accountability.”

The group was part of the marches in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Alex said while it is important to hold police accountable, more needs to be done.

“You cannot just keep saying ‘The police, oh the police are wrong, they’re not doing this,’ when within your own community there is no accountability,” Alex said.

The group advocated for the city of Syracuse to address violence, and it is. It is now recruiting for the director of the mayor’s office to reduce gun violence.

“The goal is that we will see a reduction in gun usage, shots fired, and the trajectory of young men and women that are heading in the direction of negativity, change,” Alex said.

But it’s not just guns they’re focused on. Earlier this week, a student at PSLA at Fowler High School was stabbed.

“It’s sad, young men, young women are at a point that they think the way they handle this is with violence,” Alex added, “But when they are being pushed and pressed with so much, there’s so much that young people are dealing with.”

He said the focus and goal are to have mental health professionals available and accessible to help youth make better choices. It’s going to take the whole community.