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Rochester Needs to Show the Same Courage as Minneapolis

Op-ed by Rev. Myra Brown

Rev. Myra Brown

While the world was celebrating the George Floyd verdict, we in Rochester were morning the failure of justice in the Daniel Prude murder by Rochester Police Department officers who weren’t held accountable. It is not that I don’t share in the celebration of the verdict handed down in Minneapolis on Tuesday. It is simply that I simultaneously mourn the fact that justice failed to be delivered to the Daniel Prude family when it should have.

Unlike Rochester, it appears that Minneapolis showed the world that the police and community could come together courageously to stand up for justice and see the humanity of black bodies whose lives were wrongfully taken by excessive uses of force and negligence.

The lingering question is why couldn’t Rochester and what holds us back? Is it that we don’t collectively take seriously the generations of traumatic experience and injustice committed upon black bodies because of entitlement? That history was vindicated in the Floyd verdict, but sadly ignored in the Prude verdict of no bill before the grand jury led by our AG Leticia James, who stood before us as pastors and implied it was unethical for her to bring more than one charge in Prudes killing.

In contrast, after years of seeking accountability for police violence resulting in the death of unarmed black and brown people across this country, a guilty verdict reached in Minneapolis was ethical, historic, and encouraging.

Daniel Prude deserved better! The same charges brought in the Derek Chauvin case against the officers who took his life, should have applied to Prude who was denied the opportunity for redress and accountability. Like Floyd, many around the nation watched as Prude died at the hands of police in an egregious fashion, laying naked, and cold on the street, in a mental health crisis.

The courage, honesty, and willingness to step away from the socialization of white supremacy ideology of indifference, to see the humanity of George Floyd was commendable! 

The testimony of the police chief, training officers signaled that the blue wall of silence and collusion is not impermeable. In one swoop, we witnessed perhaps for the first time the conscious of policing breaking through racial lines offering black communities a reckoning for unnecessary excess death within its community. 

According to released documents Prude’s case involved questionable science like excited delirium, police influenced autopsies, flawed expert witnesses, and traditional articulations of imminent threat which sidelined justice for him. Perhaps Minnesota has become the new model of which to take a page from in what a new policing blueprint should look like. What we know is that our work of justice lies ahead in changing the policing system in Rochester so that other families harmed by police violence can one day share in the accountability the Floyd family received.”

One thing for sure is that a new policing blueprint will allow us to rewrite and redefine the expectations of public safety and thriving communities until our legal and policing systems show more courage to enact justice for people of color like Daniel Prude!

Rev. Myra Brown is the Pastor of Spiritus Christi Church, and chair of the criminal justice committee for both the Faith Leaders Roundtable and the Local Rochester NAACP branch # 2172

(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.)