ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A day before his birthday, city officials announced Monday that the amphitheater in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park will be named “Daniel Prude Square.”
Prude lost his life at the hands of police in March 2020, while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. Body camera footage shows officers pinning him to the ground, naked, and putting a mesh spit mask over his head.
Prude lost consciousness, was hospitalized and died seven days later. He was 41 years old.
The incident, initially kept under wraps by the Rochester Police Department, was brought to public attention in September 2020, and sparked weeks of protests.
Two years later, officials have named the amphitheater after him, “to honor the man who died after being physically restrained by police,” representatives stated.
“Since my brother’s killing, keeping his memory alive and seeking justice for him have been my priorities,” Daniel Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, said in a statement issued Monday. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Daniel would have inspired so many in this community to stand up and to fight for the change we so desperately need and I am humbled that his name will live on in a space that has been defined by community-organizing, -activism and -agitation.”
A permanent sign has been added to the amphitheater, an addition to the already-there mural honoring Prude.
“This location in MLK Park is a place where people gather for celebrations, meet up for marches and peaceful protests, or take a quiet moment to themselves during the day,” said Miguel A. Meléndez, Jr., Rochester City Council President. “It is the perfect location to name Daniel Prude Square, where we will be reminded of community mobilization in the wake of tragedy and our City’s commitment to crisis response.”
Statement from Rochester City Councilmember Stanley Martin
“Today we are able to honor the memory of Daniel Prude and, in doing so, begin a restorative process centered around this community’s ability to assist those in crisis,” said City Council Member Stanley Martin. “Daniel Prude did not die in vain. His death has challenged this community to rethink how we provide support to those experiencing mental health crises, expanded conversations on community investments, sparked policy changes and greater accountability when it comes to those, who, like Mr. Prude, all too often fall through the cracks. And we still have much work to do. Today’s naming of Prude Square at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park is another step forward in transforming our community.
For me, it is particularly important since, following his death, this area was often the epi-center of community-based gatherings and peaceful protests that were held, in his name, to demand change.
I asked Mayor Evans and President Miguel Meléndez to commemorate Daniel Prude’s memory and to name Prude Square, so I want to thank them for helping make today’s announcement a reality. I am particularly grateful that this announcement came today, which is the day before Daniel Prude’s Birthday – I know that will mean very much to his family.”