Violence erupted Friday night and Saturday morning in Rochester, N.Y., amid a third night of protests over the March death of Daniel T. Prude, a Black man whom police hooded and pinned to the ground in a graphic video that drew an outcry this week.
Screams rang out as a driver collided with someone who tumbled over the car’s hood and fell to the ground, in a scene mirroring other vehicles’ targeting of protesters this summer. Three officers were hospitalized after sustaining cuts, serious swelling, burns and bruises from “projectiles and incendiary devices,” police told local news. A bus stop went up in flames, and patrons hurriedly left restaurants where people threw tables and broke glass amid protest chants.
They were the latest episodes of violence and destruction as communities nationwide are roiled by outrage over police killings of and use of force against Black Americans. Recent fatal shootings and clashes between right-wing and left-wing demonstrators in Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wis., have left residents on edge and leaders pleading for peace.
Rochester police, whom The Washington Post could not immediately reach Saturday morning, told the Spectrum News they arrested 11 people for alleged offenses including rioting, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. Police said they were not yet prepared to report on property damage.
The condition of those hit by cars overnight was not clear. Two drivers collided with demonstrators, according to an ABC 13 reporter, and remain unidentified. Writer and activist Rachel McKibbens, who shared a video of one vehicle on Twitter, said the driver sprayed mace at protesters on East Avenue and Alexander Street before speeding away from the crowd.
As in other cities, the protests began peacefully in Rochester, according to local reporters and videos shared on social media. The Democrat and Chronicle reported that at least 1,000 people showed up to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park on Friday evening to chant and call for accountability in Prude’s March death — including the resignation of the mayor and the police chief. Seven police officers have been suspended after video brought a national spotlight to Prude’s arrest.
“You’re trying to kill me!” the 41-year-old man says in the footage after police covered his head with a controversial “spit hood” meant to protect police from bodily fluids. Officials said he was experiencing a mental breakdown and died days later at a hospital of what the medical examiner ruled homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” according to an autopsy report posted by WROC.
“Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police, our mental health system, our society and me,” Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren (D) said Thursday, adding the police chief had told her earlier that Prude overdosed on drugs while in custody.
As Friday night wore on, tensions rose between protesters and police. Officers eventually fired pepper balls at demonstrators after declaring an unlawful assembly, according to local news station ABC 13.
A similar confrontation unfolded across the country in Portland, where the weekend marked 100 consecutive days of protests amid a national reckoning on race and policing sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Friday night, police and protesters briefly clashed with law enforcement outside a Portland police union building in the north side of the city, a common protest site over the past several months. Police deployed tear gas and detained at least several protesters in what they described as targeted arrests.
A woman with a bloody face, detained by police, was taken away in an ambulance.
Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report.