ROCHESTER MAYOR PROM­ISES PO­LICE RE­FORMS FOL­LOW­ING DANIEL PRUDE’S DEATH

Chicago Sun-Times - - CLASSIFIED­S -

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The mayor of Rochester promised re­forms are com­ing to the city’s po­lice depart­ment as com­mu­nity el­ders sought to bring calmer minds to a fifth night of demon­stra­tions Sun­day over the March death of Chicagoan Daniel Prude, who lost con­scious­ness af­ter po­lice held him down with a hood over his head.

Mayor Lovely War­ren an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence Sun­day that the cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion team and its bud­get would move from the po­lice depart­ment to the city’s depart­ment of youth and recre­ation ser­vices. War­ren did not pro­vide specifics but said the move would be part of a se­ries of re­forms planned for “the com­ing weeks, months and years.”

“We had a hu­man be­ing in a need of help, in need of com­pas­sion. In that mo­ment we had an op­por­tu­nity to pro­tect him, to keep him warm, to bring him to safety, to be­gin the process of heal­ing him and lift­ing him up,” War­ren said. “We have to own the fact that in the mo­ment we did not do that.”

Po­lice Chief La’Ron Sin­gle­tary, who joined War­ren at the news con­fer­ence, said he sup­ports the need for re­form in his depart­ment and is work­ing with ex­perts and clin­i­cians in get­ting out­pa­tient ser­vices for peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues that bring them into re­peated po­lice con­tact.

War­ren sus­pended the seven of­fi­cers in­volved in Prude’s death last week af­ter his fam­ily re­leased po­lice video from the March night when he was re­strained on a city street.

The video shows the of­fi­cers cov­er­ing Prude’s head with a “spit hood” de­signed to pro­tect po­lice from bod­ily flu­ids, af­ter he com­plied with be­ing hand­cuffed, then press­ing his face into the pave­ment for two min­utes. Prude, 41, was naked at the time of his ar­rest on the light-snowy day in March. He died a week later af­ter he was taken off life sup­port.

The po­lice union head said the of­fi­cers were fol­low­ing their train­ing.

Protests have fol­lowed each day since the fam­ily re­leased the video on Wed­nes­day, some­times spawn­ing con­fronta­tions with demon­stra­tors and the po­lice.

On Sun­day night, po­lice said more than 1,000 demon­stra­tors gath­ered in down­town Rochester as peo­ple chant­ing “We are el­ders, and we sup­port our youth” and “say his name, Daniel Prude” led a march to the Public Safety Build­ing that houses po­lice head­quar­ters.

Three of­fi­cers were treated at hos­pi­tals for in­juries they suf­fered when “pro­jec­tiles and in­cen­di­ary de­vices” were hurled at them dur­ing Satur­day night’s protests over Prude’s death, Lt. Greg Bello of the Rochester po­lice said in a news re­lease. Nine pro­test­ers were ar­rested.

The Demo­crat and Chron­i­cle re­ported that some pro­test­ers were hit by pro­jec­tiles also as thou­sands marched through the streets of New York’s third-largest city. No in­for­ma­tion about in­juries to pro­test­ers was pro­vided by po­lice.

The Rev. Myra Brown called for about 50 church el­ders to gather at Spir­i­tus Christi Church in down­town Rochester on Sun­day evening to serve as a “buf­fer” so pro­test­ers are free to ex­press them­selves with­out po­lice in­ter­fer­ence.

“We el­ders have vol­un­teered to put our bod­ies on the line to make sure that hap­pens,” Brown said at the news con­fer­ence with the mayor and po­lice chief Sun­day.

The New York Civil Lib­er­ties Union crit­i­cized the po­lice use of “mil­i­tary tac­tics,” in­clud­ing sound can­nons, flash bangs, tear gas, and pep­per balls against the demon­stra­tors.

“Peo­ple speak­ing out are not en­emy com­bat­ants, and to fire flash bangs, tear gas, and pep­per balls at demon­stra­tions against po­lice vi­o­lence only proves the point,” NYCLU Ge­ne­see Val­ley chap­ter di­rec­tor Iman Abid said in a state­ment Sun­day. “The mayor and RPD must stop th­ese war­fare tac­tics now.”

The marches took place as New York’s at­tor­ney gen­eral an­nounced Satur­day that a grand jury would in­ves­ti­gate Prude’s death.

MICHAEL M. SAN­TI­AGO/GETTY IM­AGES PHOTOS

ABOVE: Peo­ple pre­pare Sun­day night to march for Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York. LEFT: Rochester Mayor Lovely War­ren ad­dresses the me­dia on Sun­day.

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