Daniel’s Day: Prude protest shuts down East Ave. Wegmans on 1 year anniversary of police encounter

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Tuesday, March 23 marked one year since Daniel Prude’s encounter with the Rochester Police Department which ultimately led to his death a week later.

Activists called Tuesday “Daniel’s Day,” and are encouraging others in Rochester to call out of work, school, and demand justice for Prude.

“We join the Prude family in calling for a day of action and remembrance on the one year anniversary of Daniel Prude’s murder by the RPD. Call out of work, walk out of class, and join us in the streets to demand justice for Daniel Prude!” a Facebook post from the organizers Free the People ROC reads.

A rally began around 8 a.m. at Parcel 5 in downtown Rochester. A celebration of life is planned for 5 p.m. at 72 Child Street. From Parcel 5, demonstrators marched to the RTS station and blocked the bus path around 9:20 a.m., offering to give free rides to people who needed a commute.

About a half hour later, demonstrators marched from the bus station to the intersection of East Avenue and Alexander Street where they again shut down traffic.

About 15 minutes later the group left the intersection and headed further east down East Avenue. Around 10:20 a.m. demonstrators reached the intersection of Culver Road and East Avenue where they again shut down traffic.

Marching further east from there, the demonstrators reached the East Avenue Wegmans just before 11 a.m. and blocked off the entry. Doors to the store were closed and customers inside were kept in the building temporarily, but were let out shortly thereafter.

Photo gallery

Protesters told our crew at the scene they would be at Wegmans “for as long as it takes.” Activists set up tables and did chalk art outside the store.

Shortly after 12 p.m. a spokesperson from Wegmans released the following statement:

“Our East Ave. store is currently closed due to protest activity taking place outside of the store. At this time, no customers remain in the store, and the doors will remain closed. Our number one priority is the safety of our employees and customers.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday the group of protesters were still outside the East Avenue Wegmans — eating pizza and listening to music — as the store remained closed as of 3:30 p.m.

“We want to make sure that when we’re disrupting traffic, when we’re advocating and raising our voices, we’re not singing to the choir,” said Ashley Gantt, Free the People ROC organizer. “When we do it in our communities were singing to the choir because we are the people being brutalized — our people know — it’s these folks in these communities that don’t know.”

Demonstrators say they are calling for the firing of the officers involved in Prude’s death, defunding the Rochester Police Department, and new responses to mental health crises.

Wegmans officials say the East Avenue store will remain closed until Wednesday at 6 a.m.

By 4 p.m. the protest had dwindled as many had regrouped and went to the Celebration of Life event on Child Street, which began at 5 p.m.

Live updates

A celebration of life is planned for 5 p.m. at 72 Child Street Tuesday.

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died after an encounter with Rochester police in March, but news of the incident just came to light on Sept. 2, 2020. Police worn body camera footage of the incident showed officers restraining a handcuffed Prude, who was naked with a spit hood over his head, before he ultimately went unconscious.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report said Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of the encounter with police, which could explain his erratic behavior.

The Rochester police officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude will not face charges after a grand jury elected not to indict. The minutes of the grand jury testimony will be released with redactions after a judge approved the attorney general’s request to do so.

Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, who was fired by Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren shortly after details of Prude’s death became public, testified in a nine-hour deposition in February which was part of an independent investigation initiated by Rochester City Council continues to see if there was indeed a cover-up.

That investigation looked into City Hall, the Rochester Police Department and City Council itself and concluded that key city officials knowingly suppressed information regarding Prude’s death from the public.

In an 84-page report into the City of Rochester’s handling of the Daniel Prude case, the special investigator hired by Rochester City Council said key city officials knowingly suppressed information.

The report said the ultimate decision to not disclose the death of Prude to the public was that of Mayor Warren. However he went on to say the responsibility for the delay wasn’t just hers.

Aside from Singletary, several other high-ranking members within the RPD’s command staff have also announced retirements, in a major leadership shake-up for the city’s police department.

Protests sparked following the news of Prude’s death in the city of Rochester throughout the month of September. Some demonstrations saw violent clashes between protesters and police.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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