A massive Black Lives Matter protest for Daniel Prude, a black Rochester man who died in police custody back in March, turned turbulent overnight, with arson and looting reported all over the area.
The demonstration – reportedly involving around 1,000 people – kicked off in Rochester, New York on Friday evening, with participants marching through residential areas towards the downtown. As the procession approached Court Street, it was met by a large police presence.
Law enforcers have declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly,” demanding that the rally disperses. Officers warned demonstrators that they would be arrested if they carried on protesting – yet many did so, while others obeyed and left the street.
Large crowds march through Rochester in protest against police brutality https://t.co/NuFLop9mSg
At one point, the standoff devolved into scuffles, with police firing tear gas into the crowd.
Court Street cleared up to an extent, but the unrest spilled over into other parts of the city. Local reports mentioned restaurants being “shut down” by a throng of rioters that was filmed breaking tables and making diners flee for safety.
#HappeningNow the protesters in Rochester NY are “shutting down restaurants”, tables are broken, people running off scared #rochesterprotestspic.twitter.com/oxmlZp526w
As the chaos continued, videos emerged online purportedly showing some agitated protesters who called on residents not to document crimes should they occur. “If you ain’t police, don’t report crimes!” a person is heard shouting in the footage.
“If you ain’t police do not record crimes” – Rochester Black Lives Matter activist. pic.twitter.com/5FuBmdSn4v
The protest action has continued in Rochester since Wednesday when new details emerged in the case of Daniel Prude, an African American who was detained by a police patrol back in March while running through the streets naked. Officers were responding to a 911 call from Prude’s brother, who said the man was experiencing mental health issues.
Footage released on Wednesday shows him complying with police orders to get on the ground. But the situation escalated when Prude began to yell and spit at officers, to which they responded by putting a hood on him and pushing his head to the pavement with force. One officer was seen placing a knee on the naked detainee’s back until he stopped moving and his shouts turned into grunts.
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This week, judicial authorities ruled Prude’s death a homicide caused by complications with asphyxiation during physical restraint. Seven officers from Rochester Police Department were suspended in relation to the incident, although the agency itself defended the officers’ conduct, saying they did everything by the book.
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