Black Lives Matter protests kept supermarket customers inside a Rochester store for around an hour on Tuesday, during a demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of a black man during arrest.
The staff of Wegmans closed the doors, to prevent the protesters entering, leaving around 100 customers inside.
Daniel Prude, 41, died after police were called by his family on March 23, 2020 for help with a mental health episode, exacerbated by the drug PCP.
Prude’s brother had called for help and police found him walking naked in the street. They put a spit hood over his head and pressed him into the street until he stopped breathing.
Daniel Prude, 41, from Chicago, died after his March 23, 2020 arrest by Rochester police
Prude had taken the drug PCP and had a mental health episode, and police were called
Protesters were blocked from entering a Wegmans store in Rochester on Tuesday
Wegmans staff closed the doors on Tuesday to prevent the protesters entering
On Tuesday demonstrators gathered in the New York city to mark the anniversary with a procession through the streets.
Joe Prude, Daniel Prude’s brother, helped rally people, saying in a video message that the day should be a time of ‘no school, no work.’
Prude’s five children have filed a wrongful death suit
According to CBS affiliate WROC, the demonstrations started with a rally at 8am.
From there, dozens marched through downtown Rochester, chanting: ‘No justice, no peace’.
A grand jury in February declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in Prude’s death.
The case was not made public until September. Within weeks, the chief of Rochester Police and his entire command staff had retired, had their ranks reduced, or were fired, amid accusations of a coverup.
Emails released later showed Rochester police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing the footage because they feared violent blowback if it came out during nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary has since filed a notice of claim against the City of Rochester.
The protesters blocked the departure of buses from a terminal, and then marched up to a branch of the Wegmans supermarket, where they barricaded shoppers inside.
Protesters in Rochester marched through the streets on the anniversary of Prude’s arrest
Buses were blocked from leaving Rochester terminal by protesters’ vehicles and a sit-in
Calling Tuesday ‘Daniel Day’, activists took to the streets calling for police reform
Footage filmed by 13 WHAM showed the BLM crowd writing Prude’s name in chalk outside the supermarket, while frustrated shoppers looked out.
On of the protesters told Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Wegmans was symbolic of some of the problems in the city.
‘As we march, rally and protest — you have to be able to stop commerce,’ said Anthony Hall, a Rochester native who has worked with the city as a youth gang intervention specialist. He is also running for City Council.
‘Wegmans is a large business in Monroe County,’ Hall said.
‘This is the only Wegmans in the city limits, but it’s not accessible to the city residents. Hopefully, Danny Wegman talks with the Mayor and City Council because this affected him today. We want people to be inconvenienced because Daniel Prude’s family has suffered a great loss.’
Justin Morris, president of the Rochester Chapter of the Arc of Justice, a grassroots organization for social change, told the paper: ‘Wegmans exemplifies what’s wrong in our community.’.
He continued: ‘Wegmans started in the inner-city, in some of our most vulnerable communities, then they got their check and left.
‘There is no reason why Danny Wegman is having so much success, but in the city, we have food deserts.’
By evening, after the shoppers had left and Wegmans had closed, the demonstrators gathered by a mural proclaiming Prude’s name to release balloons into the sky.
Prude was from Chicago but was visiting relatives in Rochester last year
Prude, who was from Chicago but was visiting relatives in Rochester, died on March 30 last year – seven days after his arrest.
Earlier this month attorneys for Prude’s five children announced a federal lawsuit against the city of Rochester and at least six police officers, alleging wrongful death and civil rights violations.
The family claims in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court that both the actions of the Rochester police and an ‘attempted cover-up’ by the department and city government violated Prude’s constitutional rights, attorneys for the family said.
‘My father had a hard life, but he was a great dad. He always showed me and my brother and sisters how much he loved us,’ said Prude’s oldest son, Nathaniel McFarland, in a statement.
‘Our hearts are broken by his death, but this lawsuit has given us hope for the future.’
Police initially described his death as a drug overdose.
The county medical examiner listed the manner of death as homicide caused by ‘complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint’ and cited the drug PCP as a contributing factor.
‘His family sought help from the Rochester police, and that was a mistake — a fatal mistake,’ their case states.
‘Instead of providing him with care and assistance, officers of the Rochester Police Department cruelly abused him, mocked him, and killed him.’