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Reverend, activists call for justice, more community organizing in wake of Daniel Prude’s killing

Rev. Lewis Stewart stands with members of Community Justice Initiative and others outside of City Hall
Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News
Rev. Lewis Stewart stands with members of Community Justice Initiative and others outside of City Hall


Activists gathered outside of Rochester City Hall on Thursday morning, demanding that more be done to ensure justice is served for Daniel Prude, his family, and the Black community.

Prude died in March after Rochester police officers restrained him.

The Rev. Lewis Stewart with the United Christian Leadership Ministry said it’s still unclear why it took nearly six months for Prude's death, which was ruled a homicide, to become public knowledge.

“If it was a police officer who was assaulted, it would have come out the same day, and it would have been on the news every day, and every hour,” said Stewart. “It would have come out as soon as it happened, but Black people’s lives are devalued.”

Mayor Lovely Warren said Wednesday during a news conference that the delay for Prude's death being made public was because the state Attorney General's Office is investigating it. She said a 2015 governor's executive order mandated that deaths of civilians caused by police be investigated by that office. 

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Ashley Gantt with Free the People Roc said that despite what Warren and other officials say, this was a coverup. 

“There’s no excuse, and for the mayor to get on the news and say that they didn’t do anything because of the governor’s executive order is a blatant lie,” said Gantt.

Later Thursday, Warren said that she was told by Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary that Prude overdosed in police custody on March 23 and that he may die. It wasn’t until Aug. 4, she said, when she learned more.

Stewart said officials have failed the communities they serve. In June, Warren and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced a Commission on Racial and Structural Equity. Stewart said the people appointed were put there for political gain, not for community good.

“They didn’t put in the people who want to overturn systemic racism," he said. "Those were political appointees designed not to serve you and me but to buttress their system of power.”

Stewart said a community meeting and vigil in honor of Prude will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at First Church of God, 334 Clarissa St.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.
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