KEY POINTS

  • BLM protests in Rochester, New York, ended Labor Day weekend peacefully, contrasting with the chaos scene on Friday and Saturday
  • One of the most visually striking demonstrations took place outside Rochester Police headquarters
  • Trump faced stark backlash for attacks against city and state officials after protests turned peaceful

After days of chaotic altercations between Black Lives Matter protesters and police, Rochester, New York, saw two days of peaceful protests to cap off a week of tensions sparked by the video of Daniel Prude’s death in March.

Monday’s protests started with arguably one of the most visually striking demonstrations outside Rochester’s police headquarters. Six people sat outside the building, either naked or wearing minimal clothes and sitting on their hands, with the words “Black Lives Matter” written on their backs. In a striking display, they wore white hoods over their heads to represent the “spit hood” placed on Prude that contributed to his death from asphyxiation.

Prude died in March while being detained by police after his brother called asking for help, saying Prude was suffering from a mental health crisis. Prude was found wandering naked and unarmed. He shouted he had COVID at the officers who found him, prompting them to place the spit hood over his head. Prude died a short time later.

The bodycam footage of Prude’s detainment and death was not publicly released until Sept. 2.

“It doesn't seem possible that humans could treat each other that way,” Paul Hypolite told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Hypolite lived in Rochester for five years before moving to New York City. He said he returned to join the Black Lives Matter protests and support loved ones still living in the city.

“I don't understand how someone can see another human in that position and not feel compassion and want do whatever they can to help them.”

The protesters sat in the rain until around 8 a.m. when they were provided blankets and left the building to recover.

Protests picked back up around 8 p.m. Monday when a large crowd gathered at Rochester’s MLK Park. The protesters first marched to City Hall, demanding Mayor Lovely Warren resign, then moved on to the Public Safety Building where protesters found themselves in a standoff with police until the protests broke up around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Aside from some bottles being thrown, the protest remained peaceful and no arrests were made. City officials credited this to community elders and BLM leaders who helped keep the peace on both sides.

“The Rochester Police Department would like to thank our local and state law enforcement partners, along with community members and elders who helped keep the protest peaceful,” the department said in a press release.

It marked an end to the second-straight day of peaceful protests in the city, contrasting the chaotic scenes from Friday and Saturday. President Trump used this as an opportunity to criticize state and local leadership Monday on his Twitter, but was met by immediate backlash from New York and Rochester officials.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office responded, pointing to the peaceful protests on Sunday and accusing Trump of trying to promote “anarchy” and sow “the flames of division.”

Mayor Warren also responded, telling residents to ignore Trump’s desire to “incite violence” in an attempt to boost himself politically ahead of the 2020 election. She said in a press release:

“Last night the world saw the true spirit of Rochester. Over 1000 people came together in solidarity to remember the life of Daniel Prude and call for the change that is needed to overcome structural and institutional racism. I am grateful to Pastor Myra Brown, our community elders, and the leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement for helping ensure calm while making their message heard.

I am also glad that our Rochester Police Department and Chief Singletary followed my edict to adopt a smaller and more restrained posture. It is clear to me that their actions were crucial to the peace we saw last night.

Lastly, I ask that all involved ignore the commentary from the President. It is clear is his only desire is to bait people to act with hate and incite violence that he believes will benefit him politically. We will not give him what he wants. We will continue to act with grace and do the work necessary improve Rochester and our entire community.”

Rochester, New York has seen five nights of protests over video evidence that shows the death of Daniel Prude, a black man with psychological problems, who was placed in a hood and forced face-down on a road by police Rochester, New York has seen five nights of protests over video evidence that shows the death of Daniel Prude, a black man with psychological problems, who was placed in a hood and forced face-down on a road by police Photo: AFP / Maranie R. STAAB