Op-ed by Shanique Byrd
Mayor Lovely Warren gets a few kudos for coming out swinging during Monday’s news conference. The embattled mayor looked more like a boss, instead of a worker when she relieved Chief La’Ron Singletary of his duties just days before his scheduled retirement. To prove she wanted all the smoke, Warren suspended the head of her legal department Tim Curtin and Director of Communications Justin Roj for 30 days without pay. (Read my coverage of Tim Curtin at tocsinmag.com
The shakeup, which felt more like a political stunt was retaliation for the coverup of Daniel Prude’s murder nearly six months after his death. Prude was murdered by police on March 23, but the details and video of his tragic death was not released to the public until September 2nd, sparking a citywide protest against police brutality and calls for her resignation.
Now, Warren is seeking redemption or retribution depending on how you view it. She cleaned house starting with the chief and worked her way down. The shakeup is six months too late and just days from a Grand Jury hearing, but the two term mayor is hoping for a third run, that some say will likely be served behind bars if she is indicted for misusing campaign funds. Warren’s credibility is also on shaky ground after telling several versions of the truth in multiple news conferences.
However, that didn’t stop her team from hastily releasing pages of emails to the media and allowing them to be distributed across social media. The release of these emails gives the illusion that she has nothing to hide, but; two hundred or so emails seems pretty light for a case that’s been going on for six months amongst at least 10 different people. Releasing this information is a clear attempt to, once again, shift blame and carry on with business as usual.
In one email, Singletary advises Roj that the mayor has been “in the loop” since March 23.
In another email, Warren sent to Singletary on August 6, she wrote, “After meeting with you, the deputy mayor, and Corporate Counsel this afternoon regarding the case of Prude. I am outraged at the conduct and attitude of Officer Vaughn during a mental hygiene arrest….”.
Officer Vaughn and Officer Taladay are shown on body cam footage, kneeling on Mr. Prude’s back and holding a spit hood tightly around his face and neck. In the video you hear Prude’s voice become muffled as you watch the gloved hands of one of the officers tightens the hood. Then you hear one of the officers respond, “He’s vomiting”, but he never removes the hood. At that point, Prude’s body goes limp and his voice is silenced. It is believed that Prude never regained consciousness after that night.
As the investigation surrounding Prude’s death deepens, and the list of who knew what and when continues to grow, the city remains broken. With conflicting statements appearing to be the common thread, no one wants to be held accountable. The blame game keeps going round and round, while protesters take over the community and City Hall.
Unfortunately, asking for transparency within a system known for corruption is probably the equivalent to asking Adam McFadden to handle our finances, it’s just dumb. The truth is, most politicians are morally bankrupt, they bend the truth to fit their political agenda, while pretending to care about the community in which they serve.
Shanique Byrd is the founder of Tocsin Magazine, a social justice publication & trusted media source. The author of the children’s book, “The Salad Bowl,” the Rochester native is an alumni of Monroe Community College and a dedicated advocate for prison reform. Over the last 10 years, Ms. Byrd has interviewed countless entertainers, politicians, and business professionals. In her spare time, she enjoys responding to letters, emails, and phone calls from men and women currently serving time behind bars. Get more information about her at tocsinmag.com
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)