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Hundreds protest on I-490 Sunday, organizers plan to do it again Friday afternoon

It was raining as hundreds of people poured off of the Frederick Douglass Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge Sunday. 

This Black Lives Matter protest was organized by a group called Save Rochester which led protesters onto I-490 near Corn Hill before they were turned away by state police. More than 300 people participated. 

They chanted “No justice, no peace, we shut the city down.”

One of the group’s leaders, who would only identify himself as Mikey, led the chant “Fully fund public schools!” He then interrupted it.

Mikey: "Did I say partially?"

Crowd: "No."

Mikey: "Did I say a little bit?"

Crowd: "No."

Mikey: "They need to get the same funding that Brighton is getting. They need to get the same funding that Rush-Henrietta is getting. They need to get the same funding that Irondequoit is getting. These are the fundamental issues that we are talking about. Get it? OK, Next."

By the time they got off the bridge, they stopped at the corner of Chestnut St. and Monroe Ave. Rochester police blocked off traffic on all sides. That’s when Mikey gave them their charge.

Mikey: "We came here for one action. What is it?"

Crowd: "Shut it down!"

Mikey: "And what did we do?"

Crowd: "Shut it down!"

Mikey: "And are we gonna do that again this Friday?"

Crowd: "Yeah!"

Mikey: "If you're gonna be out here this Friday and do it again say, 'hell yeah!' "

Crowd: "Hell yeah!"

Different speakers spoke on defunding the police, supporting black businesses, education as well as the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor. 

One speaker, Abdul Hadi, spoke on black economics. He said he’s participating because his 10-year-old daughter was handcuffed on Route 104 back in May. Hadi was pulled over with an expired inspection sticker. Rochester Police say they were concerned that his daughter could run into traffic. Police body cam footage showed the girl was handcuffed before that was possible.

“Our human rights were violated that day,” said Hadi. “We went, we spoke to the mayor, we spoke to the police chief, and they still weren't apologetic about the event. They were willing to give up the money but they weren’t apologetic for it. We’re not here for the money, we’re here for the people, we’re here because of injustice and wanted to make sure everybody is heard.”

Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said an internal investigation said the officers did not break any protocols because there’s no restrictions on using handcuff on minors.

Hadi said his family has not yet decided to sue the city but he said they’re considering it.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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