Local activist group Free the People ROC has planned an advocacy campaign this week to garner support for Daniel’s Law.
The state bill, named after Daniel Prude, who died in March 2020 after being restrained by Rochester police, would have mental health professionals respond to mental health and substance use emergencies instead of police.
State Sen. Samra Brouk and Assemblyman Harry Bronson are the bill’s co-sponsors.
During a virtual news conference on Monday, Bronson said the Rochester delegation is on board to get people the help they need.
“This legislation would establish state and regional mental health response councils requiring mental health professionals to respond to mental health and substance abuse emergencies," Bronson said. “And that we move from a system of force and control to a system with compassion to a system with care and with treatment.”
The state’s Senate and Assembly public health committees will discuss Daniel’s Law during a public hearing on Tuesday. Bronson and Brouck are hoping to get it through to a vote by the end of session June 10.
Activists and lawmakers from across the state support the bill. Yusuf Abdul Qadir, a social justice activist from Syracuse, said police response to mental health crises is a statewide issue that needs change.
“What was evidently clear is that communities want a different relationship with law enforcement and those that they're supposed to be served by," Qadir said. "They don't want a situation where a person calls for assistance and support for that encounter to result in the death of a loved one.”
Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, chairperson of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, also supports the bill.
Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC said the community has been seeking alternatives for addressing mental health crises, and the legislation will provide a form of justice for the Prudes and other families.
She said community has found alternative ways to respond to crisis and the result has saved people's lives.
Joe Prude, Daniel Prude’s brother, said the bill has special meaning for his family and other families in the community.
“It brings a great deal of joy to my heart to know that this law is in the making," he said.
Free the People ROC is hosting a series of virtual events this week to inform the community and lawmakers about the bill.
On Saturday, the group will host a 5K walk that will begin and end at Parcel 5, 285 E. Main St. Local artists Rashaad Parker, Cocoa Rae and others are creating an installation, titled "A Sanctuary for Daniel Prude,” at the site. There also will be a resource fair, music and food available.