Protesters outside Rochester Locust Club say police union has ‘never done the right thing’

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Protesters gathered Tuesday outside of the Locust Club, the Rochester Police Department Union, to continue to raise awareness and demand change from the local police force.

A Facebook posts from the local organization Free the People ROC reads, “We invite the community to join us as we continue the movement to demand change for our community by ending police brutality and investing in our community.”

The Facebook page defines the group’s mission as: Movement focused on investing in our community by defunding the police and abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex.

Free the People criticized the response of the community after Saturday’s protest, specifically the curfew and the use of tear gas by police. The group met at the Locust Club and specifically called out the police union.

“We wanted to acknowledge that the Locust Club is part of the reason why we are seeing so much harm in our black communities,” one of the organizers said.

They said the union has protected racist cops and cops who have murdered black people. Organizers said the Locust Club has had the chance to do the right thing for decades but it, “have never done the right thing.”

Back in November, Rochester voters overwhelmingly approved of the Police Accountability Board referendum. However the Locust Club, which has consistently challenged the formation and powers of the PAB, took the matter of disciplinary power to court and in early May, a New York State Supreme Court ruled the PAB will not have disciplinary powers.

“Our communities cannot afford to wait another one hundred years to be granted an existence free of mass criminalization, mass surveillance, and mass incarceration. We want our families to be able to live in peace, with dignity, and free to pursue their creative potential,” The organizers said in a statement. It continues, “To realize this vision, the City of Rochester and its electeds must:

  • Divest from police and invest in our communities. Resources — not police and prisons — are what create safety. 
  • Remove police from Rochester City Schools. The Rochester City School District must sever ties with the Rochester Police Department.
  • End mass incarceration. Support community-based alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice.
  • Return any and all contributions from law enforcement PACs. Elected officials and candidates should donate all money from the police lobby to local bail funds.

Groups met outside the Monroe County Hall of Justice on Monday to continue Saturday’s protests. The event was peaceful and ended without incident. The Hall of Justice closed early “out of an abundance of caution.”

Protesters chanted “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “I can’t breath.” At one point, they all laid on the ground with their hands behind their backs, chanting George Floyd’s name for eight minutes to honor him.

This all coming after a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally Saturday afternoon that turned violent in the evening hours. Police vehicles were vandalized, tear gas was deployed, cars were lit on fire, and those events outside the Public Safety Building preceded more looting and destruction around the area Saturday.

Still, despite the chaos that consumed the community Saturday, an outpouring of community support followed. Thousands of volunteers pitched in Sunday morning to help clean and restore areas in and around the city.

Rochester police have asked for the public’s help in identifying people involved in Saturday’s incidents. There are more than 20 people in the police photos so far.

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