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National Leadership visits Rochester, Stands with Victims of RPD

Tyronda James

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. Photo provided by Christopher Bell.

Civil rights activists, the Arc of Justice, a New York City-based organization assembled in Rochester armed with demands, calls for the federal monitoring of the Rochester police Department. 

“No justice, No peace,” rang from the crowd of organizers and supporters.

The organizers were joined by Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died after he was put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.

“We need justice, Carr said. “But the only way that we’re going to get it is, we got to demand it, we can’t ask for it!”

Carr traveled to support other Rochester-area activists including Joe Prude, the brother of Daniel Prude, Elba Pope, mother of 9-year-old pepper-sprayed by an RPD police officer and Phyllis Lowery, the grandmother of Tyshon Jones, who was killed outside of the open Door Mission.

“We are gathered here today to speak out against the injustices, not just as of late, but the continued practices of RPD,” said Justin Morris, chapter president of the Arc of Justice Rochester.

They say that Rochester leadership is incapable and incompetent and will not stand up and protect the city’s black and brown residents.

“It is high time that the federal government intervene in the city of Rochester,” said Arc of Justice founder Rev. Kirsten John Foy.

Here are the goals set by the organizers:

  • Petitioning the government for a redress of grievances regarding the racially discriminatory pattern and practices of the Rochester Police Department.
  • Disseminating a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, U.S. Department of Justice, and United States Commission on Civil Rights requesting federal investigation of the Rochester Police Department.
  • Demanding the U.S. Justice Department to install a federal monitor over the Rochester Police Department.
  • Calling on state Legislature to expand the jurisdiction of the New York State Attorney General to investigate racial discriminatory policing.

Foy said too  many of the encounters black people have had with RPD were lethal and deadly.

“Whether we are talking about Daniel Prude or Tyshon Jones, it is clear that the Rochester Police Department are incapable of providing public safety for the people of Rochester,” he said.

Foy said he stands with the Rochester community, its activists and the victims who are fighting against white supremacy, racism and violence by the Rochester police department. He says new leadership is needed, because RPD does not respect its current leadership. “Therefore we must move the leadership out of the way,” he said. 

Photo provided by Christopher Bell.

“We don’t need a mayor who doesn’t have the power nor the courage. We need leadership in this city that sees the value of black lives and will defend them.” 

Civil Rights Organizer of New York Civil Liberties Union Ashley Gantt says that advocacy and community is necessary locally to make changes. “We need the advocacy of the people to talk to city council, to talk to our legislators, to get Daniel’s Law legislation funded,” Gantt said, who is also co-leader of Free the People ROC. Gantt believes that the proposed bill will pass and funding will then be necessary.

Law legislation would allow licensed mental health professionals to be first called to scenes of a mental health crisis, instead of police. 

Gantt said it is also time that RPD ban any and all use of pepper-spray, tear gas and chemical irritants of any kind, “not just to women and children, but to the citizens of Rochester period.”

Activist Anthony Hall said there will be no cowering down and the protesting and rallying will still happen. “We’re going to keep doing this fight.” he said.

“For those that have been impacted by RPD in a racist system, we’re demanding justice. We’re angry and we had a right to be angry. We’re tired of it. Election season coming up right on. If you don’t get out the way we’re going to use our power to vote, to get you out the way.”

For more information about The Arc of Justice go to