ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Police officers arrived at City Hall to break up the protesters who were on site since early Tuesday morning, to demand justice for Daniel Prude.
Over a loud speaker Wednesday morning, Rochester Police Department officers said failure to leave the area would result in arrests. Still, demonstrators remained on scene, and more than 20 people were arrested, according to protest organizers Free the People ROC.
“We’re going to be here, this is not going to change anything,” said Free the People and NYCLU organizer Ashley Gantt. “It is our right to protest, it is our tradition as black people to protest. What we’re asking for is something that’s not unreasonable. If they can arrest 20 protesters, they can arrest officers Taladay, Vaughn, and Santiago.”
RPD officers surrounded the back of City Hall and blocked off State Street. The officers then walked the protesters down Church Street to clear the entrance of City Hall. Free the People ROC officials say local, state, and federal police advanced on sleeping protesters as city sanitation workers removed personal items.
“It doesn’t get any more peaceful than sleeping and yet RPD were in full riot gear, the
state police were called,” Gantt said. “This is traumatizing; we had families and
people of all ages there last night to be on the right side of history and to see this
response is, to see our sleeping bags held as evidence? This isn’t justice.”
Around 9:50 a.m. a counter-protesters showed up shouting blue lives matter. The crowd cheered as police removed him and cuffed him.
At 10 a.m. protesters moved to the sidewalks to clear the road, but Gantt said they would remain at City Hall until all arrested protesters were released.
Police barricaded the street around 10:10 a.m. Behind the barricade, city crews began clearing the area by removing signs and paint put up by protesters, and picking up tents leftover from the night before — which were to be taken to Rev. Brown’s church nearby.
City sanitation crews continued to clean up the area as protesters looked on nearby. Around 11:30 a.m. police removed the barricades and left the area. Approximately 30 protesters remained then, some eating breakfast, before ultimately dispersing.
City Hall protest photos
Rev. Myra Brown talking to police at City Hall protest on morning of September 16, 2020. (News 8 WROC photo/Josh Navarro)
The Tuesday gathering began around 8:30 a.m. outside the Public Safety Building. From there, the group marched to City Hall, where they said they would remain until the officers involved in Prude’s death were fired, until Mayor Lovely Warren resigned, among more demands made.
Due to Tuesday’s protest, no one was able to gain access to City Hall, so city officials decided to close at 11 a.m. Officials say employees left at that time without incident and “those gathered outside continued to express themselves peacefully.”
Free the People ROC said their specific demands are as follows:
- The firing, prosecution and conviction of all seven officers involved; Mark
Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris,
Sgt. Michael Magri, Paul Ricotta.
- Drop criminal charges against all protesters arrested or charged since May 30th.
- The resignation of Mayor Lovely Warren, Deputy Mayor James Smith, District
Attorney Sandra Doorley.
- The removal of Mark Simmons as appointed Interim Chief of Police.
- Pass Daniel’s Law prohibiting police from responding to mental health calls. The
state must ensure that trained mental health providers respond to those who are
having a mental health crisis.
- Immediately end and prohibit the use of chemical weapons by RPD.
- Cut RPDs budget and reallocate resources into community-led services for true
public safety, education and ending poverty and root causes of violence.
- End the City of Rochester’s contract with the Locust Club.”
“We need to take action in light of Lovely Warren ignoring the demands of Daniel Prude’s family and activists in the community,” Free the People ROC organizer Stanley Martin said Tuesday.
Martin was critical of Warren’s selection of Mark Simmons as interim chief of police. She says Simmons shot a suicidal 13-year-old in Rochester back in 2005.