UNITED STATES. Rochester, New York. Several hundred protesters gathered at the corner of McCree and Jefferson in Rochester’s 19th Ward at the site where Daniel Prude died while under police custody for a mental hygiene arrest. This protest is the third today. The first began at the Public Safety Building and ended in a peaceful march to the location where Prude was murdered. A tape released today revealed the asphyxiation of the unarmed black man that occurred on 23 March.
Questions swirl about delayed release of tapes from 23 March homicide
Floyd Long, 67, a native of Rochester, lived on the street where the incident happened and said, “It was snowing that night. No one saw what happened. We are just finding out about it today.” In the wake of the tape’s release and the medical examiner’s ruling of Prude’s death as a homicide, protesters gathered to demand the immediate firing of the three police officers implicated in the death.
Long continued, “This country was built on our backs, and it’s time the police protected all of us.”
The event was marked by music and dancing in the streets. Rashida Price, one of the organizers from Black Lives Matter Rochester said, “We are going to stay in the streets until Mayor Lovely Warren agrees to meet with us.”
Backlog in the courts leads to delay, says local D.A.
District Attorney Bill Gargan told Transcontinental Times that all cases of death while under police custody had been moved to the Attorney General’s office in 2017. Governor Andrew Cuomo created a unit within the AG’s office to disentangle local officials from any cases of citizen death while under police custody.
Gargan explained that these cases usually go to a grand jury, but due to COVID-19, there has only been one grand jury trial and the department can’t keep up with the backlog which is why the case hasn’t been heard yet.
This violence has to end
A woman attending this evening’s protest, who only wanted to be identified as a local Jewish therapist, said she felt the need to show her solidarity with her community. “I’m here because I am white, and I thought of how I could best use my privilege. I’d like to think that if needed, I would use my body to protect the lives of the [black] protesters if it came to that.”
Deborah McMullough, age 57, lost her 20-year-old daughter three years ago in a drive-by shooting. “It was a black on black crime, and this has to end.” She said, “All lives matter. Black lives matter. Your life matters. My daughter’s life mattered.” She said that she came out to add her voice to the protest to say that this violence has to come to an end. “All the violence has to end.”
In the wake of several high profile deaths of black people while under police custody across the United States, this most recent incident in Rochester is expected to bring more people to the streets to demand equal treatment of all people by the police.