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Protesters march in Rochester after 9-year-old is pepper-sprayed

More than 150 people rallied and marched Monday evening along Clinton Ave. in Rochester, gathering in front of a police substation. They were there to object to the handcuffing and pepper spraying of a 9-year old-girl last week.

With chants of "protect our children," the dozens of demonstrators, who included some area politicians and community activists, got together to let Rochester Police know they are upset about the way that young girl was treated last Friday.

It happened when police responded to a call about family trouble possibly involving a stolen car. The 9-year-old was very agitated, officers tried to get her to go into the patrol car to await an ambulance, but she was very upset, and they ended up handcuffing her and using pepper spray.

One of those speaking at the protest Monday night, Anthony Hall, emphasized the need for political change.

‘This is an issue that’s going across the country and in Rochester has been going on far too long. And the purpose of electing people that look like us, that reflect our community, is for them to effectuate change,” Hall said.

The protesters who gathered at the police substation rattled the gates for a while and chanted in the frigid cold, eventually disbanding for the night.

Meantime, Mayor Lovely Warren announced on Monday that officers involved in the use of the pepper spray against the 9-year-old will be suspended, at least until an internal police investigation has concluded. On Monday night, a statement from RPD  said that in response to Warren ordering the suspension of officers involved in the pepper spraying of a 9-year-old girl, the police department has immediately removed the three officers involved from patrol duties. One officer was suspended and two officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

Monday evening, Governor Andrew Cuomo also released this statement:

"As a human, this incident is disturbing and as a father, it's heartbreaking—this isn't how the police should treat anyone, let alone a 9-year-old girl. Across New York and around the country, the relationship between police and the communities they serve is clearly not working, which is why we launched a statewide effort to bring everyone to the table and make real, lasting reform. Rochester needs to reckon with a real police accountability problem, and this alarming incident demands a full investigation that sends a message this behavior won't be tolerated."

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.