Nearing the end of a Memorial Day weekend rife with high-profile parties and large fights around Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren took to Facebook on Monday to plead for a stop to the violence and physical distancing violations.
She urged adults to act accordingly for the sake of children in the community, while seemingly referencing racially charged rhetoric that accompanied images and videos of the incidents that were widely shared on social media.
“You must like what people say about our community,” Warren wrote. “Calling us fools and spewing hateful rhetoric and other names. It breaks my heart to constantly hear ... lock them up, throw tear gas on them, treat them like animals ... put them in cages.”
Most of the participants in the images and videos in question appeared to be African American.
“Our children deserve to see adults in this community acting better,” Warren wrote. “The trauma they’re experiencing today will be with them for life. I’m not asking you to act better for me. I’m asking you to do better for our children. We will reap, what we sow.”
Her post circulated quickly, and as of Tuesday afternoon, it had drawn more than 100 comments, most of them complimenting her post and leadership.
The unrest broke out on a relentlessly hot long weekend when temperatures topped 90 degrees, and within hours of a Friday news conference hosted by Warren and Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary at which they urged residents to follow physical distancing practices and wear masks during the holiday.
Prior to the Memorial Day weekend, Warren had issued a guidance that groups of 10 or less would be allowed to gather.
On Friday night, police broke up a party of about 300 people on Boston Street near Joseph Avenue, a gathering where there were a number of fights between party-goers. Two women were arrested during the incident.
In a statement issued that night, Singletary said police were prepared to crack down on parties.
“The Rochester Police Department will not stand for this behavior,” Singletary said. “Any and all violations of local, state, and federal laws will be strictly enforced with regard to these unsanctioned gatherings and parties.”
In an interview on WDKX on Saturday, Singletary called the incident “embarrassing."
It wasn’t the only incident over the three-day weekend.
On Memorial Day, police broke up several fights at Ontario Beach Park in Charlotte. Video of those fights posted on Facebook showed dozens of people brawling as police ordered them to disperse.
City Councilmember Jose Peo, who represents Charlotte, called the incidents “a shame.”
Year after year, he said, incidents at Ontario Beach Park seem to increase, based on monitoring done by RPD and the Charlotte Community Association.
Last month, Peo apologized for incendiary remarks he had made on social media calling on black leaders to more forcefully urge black residents to comply with physical distancing recommendations.
Peo on Tuesday said his office was working with city police to draft a full report on the Memorial Day weekend incidents, which he hoped would be presented at the neighborhood association’s June meeting.
“We can do better, and our citizens demand better from our city leaders to keep our streets safe for our families,” Peo said. “It is our responsibility as leaders to keep our citizens safe, and we have failed.”
Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.