After a weekend of tense clashes between police and protesters, waves of peaceful protesters marched to the Rochester Public Safety Building without incident Sunday night, demanding justice for, the 41-year-old who died seven days after his arrest in March.
On Monday morning, a small group of naked and partially naked protesters wearing hoods demonstrated in the middle of the street in front of the public safety building to bring greater attention to the circumstances of Prude’s treatment by Rochester police.
Prude is seen on police body camera video naked and apparently experiencing a mental health crisis. The video shows Prude being restrained by officers in the middle of a cold Rochester street. A medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” That report also says he was under the influence of the powerful hallucinogenic drug PCP.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, as part of the state’s investigation into Prude’s death.
Shirley Thompson, 69, is part of a group of “elders” organized by the city to help broker a peace between the protesters and police.
“We’re trying to appeal to the moral conscience of our authority figures in this city,” she said.
Marching alongside some of Rochester’s oldest residents were some of its youngest. Tommy Walker marched with his 3-year-old son Taner.
“I just wanted to show him that people can come together, peacefully, all races, and he’s the future, so I want him to get prepared for the future,” Walker said.
Protesters want an explanation as to why it took the city months to reveal the details of Prude’s death to the public.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren had previously said she was misled by those in her own administration. But on Sunday, she walked back those comments. She maintains she first saw the body camera video on August 4.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary told reporters he gave the mayor the “factual information the morning of the 23rd and March 30 … when Mr. Prude passed away.”
“But you told her a person OD’d while being arrested — did you know that he was being held down and all the other stuff?” a reporter asked Singletary.
“Yes,” Singletary said.
Late last week, Warreninvolved in the March arrest with pay. Both the mayor and police chief addressed the need for reform during a press conference Sunday, moving crisis intervention out of police department hands and into its youth and recreation services department.