ROCHESTER, NY – After a grand jury announced that no criminal charges would be brought against the Rochester officers whose detention of Daniel Prude could have caused his death, members of the city’s black community have expressed their grief, anger and fatigue, as well as a determination to chart a new course.
As they did throughout the fall of 2020, people from Rochester took to the streets on Tuesday night, including more than 100 who gathered at Jefferson Avenue and Samuel McCree Way, where Prude met the police. . No arrests were reported and no apparent physical clashes with law enforcement.
Protesters expressed frustration with the Rochester Police Department and the grand jury’s decision not to charge officers for Prude’s death, which follows similar findings in the high-profile cases of Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor. The Kenosha, Wisconsin, officer who shot Blake has not been charged. An officer in Louisville, Kentucky, has been charged with unnecessarily endangering Taylor’s neighbors, but no officer has been charged with killing Taylor herself.
The full timeline:Daniel Prude died in March 2020 in Rochester, New York. How? ‘Or’ What? What has happened since?
“I’m not surprised,” said N. Bryan Massey. “It’s another loss for the black community – it hits harder when it comes from home.” Massey is the founder of Educated THUG, an organization born in Rochester to lift young men out of gang culture and use their skills for social and economic change.
“This whole situation is just another reason not to trust the police,” Massey said. “We need to look for our comfort within and be sure to come up with a positive course of action to respond to this verdict.”
National civil rights lawyer Ben Crump expressed his “deep” disappointment that no officer was charged and criticized the police response to Prude, arguing for a more compassionate approach to what he called a “crisis mental health ”.
“This tragedy could have been avoided if the officers had been properly trained, but also used basic human decency and common sense to treat Mr. Prude with compassion and give him the medical care he deserved,” he said. declaration on Crump’s Twitter account read.
“Mental health crises require expertise in mental health, not violence on the part of the police,” read a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of New York. “It’s time to completely transform community safety, starting with removing RPD from the role of first responders in mental health crises and empowering trained mental health professionals. “
Meanwhile, another key trial in the national debate over police brutality is weeks away. Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer charged with second degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, is to be tried alone on March 8.
Grand jury Daniel Prude:Rochester, New York, police will not face death charges in March 2020
In Rochester, calls for a new system
Serena Viktor is a Rochester resident, mother and affiliate of Free The People Roc. Her first reaction to the news was anxiety for the Prude family.
“Our community needs the DPR to be abolished,” Viktor said. “They are a source of perpetual harm and an extension of a system that legally lynches black and black 9-year-old children. As a community, we are suffering.”
Serena’s 8-year-old son accompanies her to many events. His message to him now is to continue the fight.
“It’s tragic that I have to have a brutal conversation with an 8-year-old,” Viktor said. “I will tell my son that what happened to Daniel Prude is a grievance for our entire community. As an activist family, we will do our part to advance the needle of justice for black people.”
Announcing the grand jury findings, New York Attorney General Letitia James also called for changes to grand jury laws as well as police reforms, including better training for police officers.
That’s not enough, said Danielle Ponder, a musician, activist and local lawyer with the county public defender’s office. She was frequently present at protests surrounding the death of Daniel Prude, adding her voice to songs and speeches.
“I don’t think what she has proposed is going to get us anywhere,” Ponder said. “We need a different public safety system. The police system is broken.”
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James is part of a long line of prosecutors who regretted that a man died and that no one was held responsible, she said. “One of these prosecutors has to say ‘this system is broken and it is beyond repair’,” she said, comparing the situation to Groundhog Day.
“The only way we’re going to make something happen is to dismantle the police. Ultimately, we have to create a new system for public safety,” Ponder said. Noting that Rochester is the city where Fredrick Douglass envisioned a world where slaves would be freed, and where Susan B. Anthony could consider women having the right to vote, she believed the city was capable of envisioning a new security system. public.
“I think that so that Daniel Prude does not die in vain, the city owes him to completely transform the police force”, she declared.
Reverend Myra Brown, activist pastor of the Spiritus Christi Church, received national attention for her anti-racism efforts and role in calming protests last summer. If the police plan is not changed in Rochester, she said, there will be more Daniel Prudes and more 9-year-old black children sprayed with pepper spray.
“If we can’t get justice for Daniel Prude, black communities are not safe,” Brown said. “The grand jury decided it was more important to protect the white officers working from an 1819 slave patrol plan in this city than to provide public safety to its black citizens.”
“We never had public safety for the whole black and brown community,” she said. “We have to stop telling ourselves this is what we have.”
Brown says she has found clarity on how the city should emerge from “racialized mess,” and plans to advocate for a new public safety system.
“There is absolutely no way to experience another day like this except out of fear,” she said.
She said she draws her strength from the knowledge that the country’s police system is not the work of God.
“I know it’s not God’s action,” Brown said. “But God can help us out of it.”