Protesters seeking justice for Daniel Prude marched and rallied Tuesday evening in Rochester.
They took to the streets just hours after word that nearly all of the top leadership of the Rochester Police Department is leaving or moving to lower-level positions.
Police Chief La’Ron Singletary’s job performance had come under heavy scrutiny in the past week after Prude’s family made public police body-cam video of a March 23 mental-health call in which Prude stopped breathing while three officers pressed him to the ground. Prude would die one week later.
Yet neither Rochester officials nor New York state officials revealed Prude’s death for more than five months. Many community activists, as well as a Democrat and Chronicle editorial, had called for Singletary’s resignation.
Tuesday night’s protests came after two evenings in which de-escalation happened on the part of Rochester police. Police did not fire projectiles or force protesters to leave the area around the Public Safety Building on Sunday or Monday nights.
Here are observations, photos and videos from the three Democrat and Chronicle journalists who followed Tuesday night’s events — photographer Shawn Dowd and reporters Georgie Silvarole and Sarah Taddeo. This story is published in reverse chronoogical order:
12:10 a.m.: Protest winds to a close
Tuesday night’s march and rally drew to a close shortly after midnight.
After an evening of marching, painting of messages on the streets and listing demands to reform policing in Rochester, the protesters lowered two flags at City Hall and attached papers urging justice for Daniel Prude. Then the remaining few hundred people went their own ways.
A police tweet reported rocks thrown at police officers; otherwise, the five-hour event appeared to go off without incident. And police presence was muted, a far cry from the massing of officers seen last week, over the weekend and as recently as Monday night.
11:45 p.m.: Protesters discuss demands
As midnight approached, the protesters read their list of demands.
Reflecting the fact the protests at heart are about seeking justice for Daniel Prude, the demands included a call for more effective and humane responses to mental health calls in Rochester. Rather than simply patrol officers showing up when someone like Prude is having a mental health episode, the protesters asked that trained mental health providers come to the scene.
10:45 p.m.: On to City Hall
With Police Chief La’Ron Singletary having announced earlier Tuesday he is stepping down at month’s end, protesters marched from the Public Safety Building to City Hall to take aim at the other official they wish to see resign: Mayor Lovely Warren.
Protesters also shared their unhappiness with other local elected officials including Monroe County Exuective Adam Bello and District Attorney Sandra Doorley. According to tweets, they scrawled all three officials’ names at City Hall in a message suggesting they resign.
10:30 p.m.: Sitting down in the street
Protesters spent close to an hour in front of the Public Safety Building, arriving at roughly 9;40 p.m. and leaving at roughly 10:45 p.m.
While there, amid chants, some in the crowd used red paint to write the word “MURDERERS” on the street.
10:05 p.m: Reward offered for fireworks-shooters
As the protest unfolded Tuesday night, the Rochester Police Department investigations unit tweeted numerous videos and still images of people they say were shooting fireworks at officers from RPD, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police.
The incidents apparently occurred at an earlier protest and not Tuesday evening.
In addition, they are seeking two unidentified individuals who they say supplied the fireworks.
10 p.m: One hour until 11 p.m. Rochester deadline for large gatherings
A loud yet calm throng of protesters were in front of the Public Safety Building, on Exchange Boulevard and in the parking lot across the street.
Rochester earlier this year imposed an 11 p.m. deadline for large gatherings because of concerns over COVID-19 infection. On Monday night, protesters remained until 1 a.m., even though police had declared the gathering an unlawful assembly more than two hours earlier.
At about 9:50 p.m., Rochester police tweeted rocks had been tossed at officers. D&C reporters have not seen this occur, but the march and rally cover a large area of ground.
9:35 p.m.: At the Public Safety Building
First bicycles, then many hundreds of people streamed up Exchange Boulevard past Corn Hill Landing, underneath the Interstate 490 overpass and to the area in front of Rochester’s Publi Safety Building.
The crowd brought with it singing, chanting and the rhythmic beating of drums. Some cars honked horns in support of the marchers. Daniel Prude’s name was said frequently and loudly.
As of the arrival, the outdoor police presence was quite light. As was the case with numerous Rochester racial justice marches in June, July and August, authorities so far Tuesday night are staying mainly out of the way.
8:45 p.m.: Daniel Prude march on the move
Tuesday night’s march will almost certainly end at the Public Safety Building on Exchange Boulevard, as has been the case except for Friday and Saturday nights when streets around the building were cordoned off.
At least 600 people are on this march, which has begun leaving the Jefferson Avenue area.
7:45 p.m.: Street art and pizza
The nature of media coverage of protests is that large crowds and conflict with police tend to get the most attention.
It’s important to note that each night of the marches organized by Free the People ROC, time has been made for music, dancing and even art.
That was the case Tuesday night, when marchers including children got out the paint rollers to paint a yellow “Black Lives Matter” slogan on Jefferson Avenue, the same street where Daniel Prude suffocated while being restrained by police.
7 p.m.: Seventh night of protest begins
Tuesday night’s march and rally seeking justice for Daniel Prude began as so many others have over the past week on Jefferson Avenue, where Prude stopped breathing during an encounter with Rochester police on March 23.
It is a school night. Coincidentally or not, the crowd is somewhat smaller than on recent nights.