With the exception of “headscarves,” referring to the murder of Daniel Broad, several protesters were sitting naked, local media reported, in front of Rochester police headquarters Monday morning to press for police accountability.
Pictures and video clips showed nearly half a dozen protesters, naked or in simple clothes, some of them written on their backs “Black lives matter”, sitting silently with their hands behind them, on a street full of rain outside the city’s General Security building. The Democrat & Chronicle reported that after a while, protesters were given blankets and left in cars.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted that Rochester was among the cities that had “bad nights,” while Mayor Lovely Warren praised activist leaders, police and community elders on a quiet night of protest on Sunday.
Brod, a 41-year-old black man, died after police found him running naked on a street on March 23, put a hood over his head to prevent him from spitting, then stopped him for two minutes until he stopped breathing. And he died a week after he took off the resuscitation devices.
His brother, Joe Broad, had called 911 to seek help for Daniel Broad’s unusual behavior. His brother told the officers that he was taken to hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night, but was released after a few hours.
His death sparked outrage after relatives released a police camera video and written reports they obtained by requesting public records.
Seven police officers have been suspended from duty, and State Attorney Letitia James said Saturday that she will form a grand jury and conduct a “thorough investigation” into Brod’s death. Warren and Police Chief Laron Singletary faced calls for their resignations due to delays in revealing details of Brod’s death.
Police union officials said the officers are continuing their training.
Protesters demanded police accountability and legislation to change the way authorities respond to mental health emergencies.
Protesters gathered in Rochester Park on the sixth consecutive night of demonstrations. Free The People ROC released a statement Monday saying the marches will continue until Warren and Singletary resign, the officers involved in Broad’s death are fired and prosecuted, and the Rochester Police Department has been suspended from responding to mental health calls and canceled their funding.
Police said that more than a thousand protesters marched to the Public Safety Building.
The previous nights’ demonstrations escalated into clashes between police and protesters, as officers doused activists with chemical spray and fired what appeared to be pepper balls to remove them from the barricades around the headquarters building. At some points, fireworks were set off and set on fire at a bus stop.
And local media said that no such confrontations occurred on Sunday night, when the community elders acted as a barrier between the protesters and the police. The Police Department said that no arrests had been made.
“Last night the world saw the true spirit of Rochester,” Warren said in a statement, adding that she asked the police department on Sunday to “take a smaller and more conservative stance.”
However, Trump mentioned Rochester in a tweet Monday morning about the cities in which he said “They’ve all had bad nights” and “are poorly run by governors and mayors from the Radical Left!”
“Get the picture?” The Republican President added.
Warren, a Democrat, urged people to ignore Trump’s comments, accusing him of trying to “entice people to act with hatred and incite violence that he believes will benefit him politically.”
This summer, Trump has repeatedly portrayed Democratic mayors as the weak leaders who have allowed violence and unorganized protests to take hold of their cities, and has set himself the head of “law and order” that will keep the country out of chaos.
Shootings, murders, and other crimes have increased this summer in cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit, although overall crime is still lower than it was in past years.
Trump has sought to link street violence to the protests. Criminal justice experts say high crime rates defy easy explanation in a year with historic unemployment and an epidemic that has claimed more than 180,000 lives.