30 arrested after peaceful protest against the city's new overnight curfew law
Rochester Police say that 30 people were arrested following a peaceful protest held in the downtown area and the East End late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
Police say that at about 10:45 p.m., a group of protesters formed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Court Street, to challenge the local emergency order Mayor Lovely Warren issued on Wednesday regarding public gatherings between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Officers say the group marched from the park to the East Ave. and Alexander St. area, before returning to MLK Park where they remained for several hours.
RPD says its officers gave numerous orders to disperse over several hours. They say some protesters obeyed the orders and left, but others did not. At about 2:00 a.m., police began arresting people who refused to leave the park and follow the emergency order.
Authorities say all of the 30 were adult men and women and police say no force was used during the arrests and there were no injuries to protesters or officers.
All of those arrested were released on appearance tickets, charged with violating a misdemeanor.
Before the protest, a statement from some of the organizers said that they were there to protest what they called Warren’s “anti-Black and discriminatory curfew,” which the demonstrators say was a way to “further criminalize Black and brown people instead of addressing the root causes of crime.”
In the wake of several weeks of violence, Mayor Warren on Wednesday announced the city has put in place a curfew for gatherings in public and private. The Rochester Police Department will be enforcing the curfew with assistance from the state police.
Warren has issued an emergency order to prohibit public gatherings of more than five people and private gatherings of more than 10 unrelated people between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Bars and restaurants are excluded from the curfew, which will last for five days unless the mayor extends it.
Under the order, anyone accused of breaking the curfew can be charged with a misdemeanor.
During a news conference earlier on Wednesday, city officials said that 20 people have been shot or stabbed over the past two weeks. Warren added that many of these incidents were preceded by large parties.
“This community can do more, they can make a different decision, they can make different choices,” Warren said. “It comes down to making sure we’re preserving life rather than taking life.”
The Rochester Police Department will ramp up patrols in unspecified “hot spots,” according to officials. Dozens of New York State Troopers will help with the crackdown.
“They are going to be assisting us in patrolling the hot spots where these parties have occurred,” said Chief La’Ron Singletary. “I get it, we’re in a pandemic, but when you start seeing the violence we’ve seen in the past two months, we have to do something.”
Since June 1, 70 people have been shot in Rochester — eight of them fatally — and 10 have been stabbed, according to data provided by the city. While overall violent crime is down in Rochester, shootings have gone up 46 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to data from the Monroe County Crime Analysis Center.
“I understand the frustration, I understand the pain, I understand what people are going through, the times we are in we’ve never been in before,” Warren said. “But we’re in this together. We may not be in the same boat, but we’re in the same storm.”
The statement released by protest organizers on Wednesday night said that, T"he people will continue to rise up and challenge the status quo."
Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.