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Hundreds gather to celebrate the life of Daniel Prude

Hundreds gather Thursday night on Jefferson Ave. in Rochester to celebrate the life of Daniel Prude
Gino Fanelli
Hundreds gather Thursday night on Jefferson Ave. in Rochester to celebrate the life of Daniel Prude

There has been more than a week of protests and rallies in Rochester since the public learned of the March death of Daniel Prude.

Prude is the 41-year-old Chicago man who was visiting his brother in Rochester. His brother, Joe Prude, called police because Daniel was having a mental health crisis, and they eventually found him running naked on Jefferson Avenue. Officers pinned him to the pavement, he lost consciousness and died a week later. The death was ruled a homicide.

News about the death surfaced just last week with the release of police bodycam video, causing an uproar across the country. New York state has empaneled a grand jury to look into the incident.

While there have been marches downtown centering on locations like the Public Safety Building and City Hall, on Thursday night, the activity was  contained to Jefferson Avenue in what was called a community celebration of life for Daniel Prude.

Family members of Daniel Prude came from out of town to join in the celebration that included food, music and dancing.

Local activist, attorney and musician Danielle Ponder both spoke to and entertained the gathering with her singing. She told the people on Jefferson Avenue that “tonight is also about self-care. We’ve been out there, facing police, facing their dogs on a daily basis, so I think everybody needs a time to be with the family, to stand in memory of Daniel Prude."

Also speaking to the people gathered for the celebration, Free The People Roc organizer Ashley Gantt, who urged those in the crowd to make sure they are counted in the census and to make sure they go to the polls this election day. “Do not forget that we’re going to be marching to the polls on the first day of early voting…so this is energizing.”

Gantt also reiterated the group’s demands, including wanting city Police Chief La’Ron Singletary to resign. He ended up retiring with his command staff this week. Gantt said she’s not happy he retires with a pension, but said the activists “will take what we can get in the meantime,” and told the people at the gathering to give themselves a round of applause for being part of that change.

There were emotional comments as well from Joe Prude, who said he didn’t want to see another mother or sister or nephew or father lose someone like his family just went through.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.