Daniel Prude Protesters: Here's the Change We Want

'People in crisis deserve help, not handcuffs'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2020 11:00 AM CDT
Activists Demand Change After Black Man's Death
Demonstrators clash with police officers a block from the Public Safety Building in Rochester, N.Y., Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, after a rally and march protesting the death of Daniel Prude.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The death of Daniel Prude after a confrontation with police sparked a third night of demonstrations in New York's third-largest city, with protesters demanding more accountability for how it happened and legislation to change how authorities respond to mental health emergencies, the AP reports. Advocates for such legislation say Prude's death and the actions of seven now-suspended Rochester police officers—including one who covered the Black man's head with a "spit hood" during the March encounter—demonstrate how police are ill-equipped to deal with people suffering mental problems. Having police respond can be a "recipe for disaster," The National Alliance on Mental Illness said in a statement Friday.

Prude’s death "is yet another harrowing tragedy, but a story not unfamiliar to us," the advocacy group said. "People in crisis deserve help, not handcuffs." Stanley Martin, an organizer of Free the People Rochester, told reporters: "We do not need violent workers with guns to respond to mental health crises." Activists have marched nightly in the city of 210,000 on Lake Ontario since videos of the encounter with Prude were released this week. Friday night's protest resulted in 11 arrests, police said. As they had the night before, officers doused activists at police headquarters with a chemical spray to drive them away from the building. A police union has defended the officers involved in the encounter, saying they were following department training and protocols, including using the hood.

(Read more Daniel Prude stories.)

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