By Tyronda James
The Community Justice Initiative (CJI) held a press conference addressing the Rochester Police Department militarization during peaceful protests for the murder of Daniel T. Prude at the hands of three RPD officers..
Held at the location to proposed Beechwood RPD substation, they also debunk the lies of mainstream media and change the black narrative.
“Anthony Hall, of CJI said the first nights were horrendous, “we were met by a sub military group. RPD militarized on peaceful community folk. RPD has turned this thing into a war,” he said.
“RPD has turned this thing into a war. RPD did not let up at all.”
CJI questions why RPD continues to arm themselves against citizens. “Militarization clearly hurts people. You guys have heard of Ferguson, Missouri. About 38 people died. This is what militarization does,” Carson said.
Peacefully protesting, they have been met by RPD with SWAT gear, tactical gear, dogs, tanks, flash bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper balls against unarmed citizens. Carson said cops are creating an environment that’s hyper volatile. “And this is supported by the federal government. So $7.2 billion in funding for this purpose has been given,” he said.
Since the Ferguson protests after the death of Michael Brown the U.S. Defense Department has given out $7.2 Billion in funds for assault rifles, military gear, and armored personnel carriers to local police departments. In 2014, militarized SWAT teams killed at least 38 people. Studies show that militarized police departments are more likely to kill civilians, according to a CJI press release.
CJI came together in May fighting for justice for Na’ilah El Bey, a 10 year old girl who was wrongfully detained and handcuffed by law enforcement. Their work is aimed at destroying systemic racism and white supremacy while empowering black folks through direct service efforts.
Now they fight for justice for Daniel Prude. “That man was murdered on the streets of Rochester. His blood is still crying out for Justice,” said Morris E. Moore, of CJI.
“And nothing’s going to stop us from showing up every single day protesting. We protest. We gonna protest more. We gonna protest today. We gonna protest tomorrow, until justice is served.”
The group also wants truth and said that local media have reflected protests negatively. Daily live Facebook and Instagram protest feeds of organizers and allies depict true narratives. They are their own media outlets.
Hall said organizers have a system to make sure protests go as smoothly as possible. “And that’s not being reported. We have a group of men that’s going through the protests, making sure agitators are not in there,” Hall said.
“There’s a lot of education. There’s a lot of peace. There’s a lot of solidarity. You have a city full of vibrant, zealous leaders from organizations to individuals,” said Catherine Ejimodu, of CJI.
Education surrounds the importance of voting, completing the 2020 census and much more.
Ejimodu said supporters are coming from all over standing in solidarity. “And we’re asking for us all to rise up and take responsibility for your communities. Rise up and take responsibility for your family. We need citizens, like minded people, elected officials to come out and stand against this. Stand with us, lock arms,” said Ejimodu. “This is about liberation. And if one person is not liberated, no one has liberation.”
In regards to Attorney General Leticia James making the decision to bring Prude homicide case to a Grand Jury, the group said the community of Rochester should be proud. “Rochester as a whole should be proud of that. The inner city should be proud of that. Monroe County should be proud of that,” Ejimadu said.
Local defense attorney Leticia Astacio said this is personal because she’s a mother of a black son “March 23rd, 2020 three RPD officers literally held a mentally ill man down until he died,” she said.
“But, you’d rather arrest all of us than three of them. When you tell us that no one is above the law. You mean no black people are above the law. All of the white people in power here are above the law and you show us every chance you get, she said. “You continue to waste our tax dollars waging war against us.”
The group chants, “What’s his name? What’s his name? Say his name, Daniel Prude!”
“That’s why we’re here, said Hall.
“And to the community, thank you so much. You guys are showing up. You’re showing out. You come, you chant, you stand for hours, you’re patient. There’s so many of you, you were peaceful,” Astacio said.
“We appreciate you so much. And we’re going to get justice.”
To find out more about the community efforts of CJI, to get involved, to donate and more, they can be found at www.facebook.com/585CJI.