Civil unrest rocks Rochester as BLM demonstration targets restaurants


Update: A third night of civil unrest in Rochester over the death of a man in police custody saw multiple restaurants trashed by Black Lives Matter protesters.

Some restaurant patrons had their tables overturned while others were assaulted and even had chairs thrown at them.

Much of the chaos was recorded and posted to social media as the protest descended into a full blown riot with police declaring an “unlawful assembly” and attempting to disperse the crowds with tear gas.

Geoff Herbert

Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

Rochester, N.Y. — Newly released video of an unarmed Black man being arrested by police before his death has sparked protests in Rochester.

WHAM reports a crowd gathered Wednesday evening outside the Public Safety Building in downtown Rochester to voice their outrage over the arrest of Daniel Prude, who died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to police body camera videos and records released by Prude’s family earlier Wednesday.

Prude was arrested March 23 and died seven days later when he was taken off of life support. The Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner classified his death as a homicide.

Prude’s death received little attention until Wednesday when Prude’s family and Free the People ROC publicly accused the Rochester Police Department of covering up the case for months. They called for all the officers involved in Prude’s arrest and the alleged coverup to be fired from their jobs, plus charges for the three officers who held him down.

Videos show Prude, a Chicago man who was visiting his brother in Rochester, naked in the street as he complies with police officers asking him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. Cops put a white “spit hood” over his head to protect themselves from his saliva, as the incident occurred in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prude’s brother Joe Prude, who said he called police because Daniel was having a “mental episode,” said it was unnecessary for the officers to push Daniel’s face into the pavement while he was handcuffed and hooded.

“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude said at a news conference. “How did you see him and not directly say, ‘The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He’s cuffed up already. Come on.’ How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?”

Video shows one officer holding Prude’s head against the pavement and another places a knee on Prude’s back. After being held down just over two minutes, Prude stops moving.

The medical examiner’s report concluded Prude died of homicide, caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report lists excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.

According to WHAM, protesters marched from downtown Rochester to the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Dr. Samuel McCree Way, where Prude’s arrest occurred. Participants held signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Abolish Police Unions.”

Spectrum News reports nine people were arrested in connection with the protests. Charges included Criminal Trespassing in the 3rd degree; four were charged with resisting arrest and one was charged with inciting a riot.

An investigation into Prude’s death is ongoing at the New York Attorney General’s Office.

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