Violent agitators traveled as far as 4,000 miles from Alaska to attack cops and destroy buildings at the Rochester protests over Daniel Prude’s death, the city’s mayor and police chief said Sunday.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren insisted at a press conference that there was “credible information that outside agitators” had come to confront cops and “destroy” buildings during the four nights of protests.
She blamed them for ruining “righteous anger and heartfelt protests” from locals with “pure hearts and good intentions” who are horrified at video showing the disturbing death of Prude, 41, in March.
Chief of police La’Ron Singletary also blamed “agitators within the crowd” for coming armed with frozen bottles and other potential weapons to “provoke” officers into “some kind of confrontation.”
“We do have intelligence that we’ve been receiving that there have been outside agitators that have come to Rochester,” he said, noting info that there were plans to attack “symbolic” buildings.
“We have arrested people who provided address from Alaska, Massachusetts and other parts of the country,” Singletary said, saying they also saw social media proving extremists were traveling there.
The police chief defended his department against complaints that his officers met the protests with unnecessary violence, firing pepper balls and tear gas.
“Our response has been measured. We have shown restraint,” he insisted.
Singletary also denied rumors that he had handed in his resignation or been asked to leave — and was forcefully defended by the mayor.
“I wholeheartedly believe that Chief La’Ron Singletary is the right person to lead us through these difficult times,” Warren said.
“He was born and raised right in this city … I do not believe there is another person more dedicated to changing the culture of policing than La’Ron,” she said.
Warren insisted that the first she knew of the video showing disturbing details of Prude’s death — in which his head was repeatedly pressed into the ground as he was naked in a snowy street with a spit hood on his head — on Aug. 4, more than four months after his death.
Before that, she was told that someone died “of an apparent drug overdose while in custody,” she said, insisting she was “not aware” of the autopsy in April that ruled the death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Still, she defended the police chief for taking the “proper steps” despite the lengthy gap between Prude’s death and any action being taken against the officers involved.
“He handled it the way that he needed to handle it internally,” she said, blaming the coronavirus pandemic for otherwise fully occupying her priorities at the time.
“I can’t bring him back. None of us can,” Warren said of Prude, vowing to ensure “his memory creates everlasting change to ensure that he did not die in vain.”
“The chief and I, we love our city. We were born and raised here,” the mayor said of their commitment to change.
“We are committed to making the necessary changes to make sure this city moves forward.”
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