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Protesters, police, and politicians clashed as Daniel Prude protests continued overnight 

click to enlarge Black Lives Matter, clergy and politicians clash on Thursday, September 3 as Daniel Prude protests continue. Adrian Hale, center, takes the mic.

PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

Black Lives Matter, clergy and politicians clash on Thursday, September 3 as Daniel Prude protests continue. Adrian Hale, center, takes the mic.

Two groups with contrasting ideas of how to reform Rochester policing in the wake of news of the death of Daniel Prude clashed Thursday in various pockets of the city .

At the First Church of God on Clarissa Street, protesters disrupted what was billed as a community conversation with Mayor Lovely Warren, Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, and several members of City Council organized by the United Christian Leadership Ministry, led by the Rev. Lewis Stewart.

“You hid the murder of Daniel Prude,” Free the People Roc’s Stanley Martin screamed at the panel shortly after the conversation began.
click to enlarge Protesters shunned Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary (inset) during what was billed as a community conversation with police and politicians at the First Church of God on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Protesters shunned Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary (inset) during what was billed as a community conversation with police and politicians at the First Church of God on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.
The confrontation came hours after Warren publicly reprimanded Singletary, whom she described as having told her months ago that Prude died of a drug overdose.

Prude died March 30, a week after he fell unconscious and stopped breathing while being restrained by police in the middle of Jefferson Avenue. The county medical examiner determined his death to be a homicide resulting from asphyxiation associated with the manner in which he was restrained. The autopsy also revealed that Prude had PCP in his system.

Dozens of members of Black Lives Matter related groups took exception to Singletary’s presence at the forum and called him and the other police leaders with him “killers” and demanded he leave, which he and several City Council members did. Stewart was shoved in the process.

“The clash that happened over here happened because the young people who came up here, knew the narrative that was going to be carried out here today and we weren’t going to be accepting it any longer,” said Justin Morris, a protester.

Morris said he expected protests to continue and predicted they would be peaceful.

“There will be no looting in the community this week. We’re taking that stand. There will be no looting in the community this week," Morris said. "We’re going to awaken the people in the community to what activism looks like. What a real voice in the community looks like surrounding the issues.”
Asa Adams, another demonstrator, wanted change immediately.

“I’m sick and tired of this,” Adams said through a bullhorn. “Eventually we’re going to have to get this straight. We’re gonna have to get it clean. And we’re gonna have to do it now.”

Stewart countered that change was not possible without dialogue.

“In order to push through change,” Stewart said. “You must channel that energy, that anger, into something that’s positive.”

Warren, along with Monroe County Legislator Vince Felder, and City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot, stayed for the conversation.

Lightfoot, a retired firefighter, delivered an impassioned speech in which he defended police work but said officers should not be made to handle mental health calls alone.

City Council member Mary Lupien said Wednesday she is pursuing legislation creating a group of unarmed first responders dedicated to mental health calls.

Protesters eventually left Stewart’s event for another event near Prude’s memorial on Jefferson Avenue. Hundreds of them laid on the street face down as a version of Sam Cooke’s "A Change is Gonna Come" played.
click to enlarge Hasan Massey Sr. and 11-yr-old Hasan Jr. hug on Jefferson Ave. where Daniel Prude stopped breathing while Rochester police officers restrained him. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Hasan Massey Sr. and 11-yr-old Hasan Jr. hug on Jefferson Ave. where Daniel Prude stopped breathing while Rochester police officers restrained him.
The demonstration later migrated to the Public Safety Building, where they were met with pepper spray and pepper balls. The standoff between hundreds of demonstrators and police lasted into early Friday morning.

The Police Department issued a statement saying that rocks and glass bottles were thrown at officers and that two officers were treated for injuries at the hospital and released.

Eight of the demonstrators were arrested on charges that included disorderly conduct and  resisting arrest.

James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at jbrown@wxxi.org.
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