The death earlier this year of Daniel Prude after he was pinned to the ground by police on Jefferson Avenue in Rochester has brought an outcry from many local organizations who say steps need to be taken now to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
Police were originally called to look for Prude by his brother, because Daniel was having a mental health crisis. Prude suffocated while being restrained by police in March, and he died a week later. The death was ruled a homicide.
Among the agencies calling for systemic change is the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.
Its interim executive director, Aqua Porter, said that what happened to Prude is an example of how the system is not built to help people like him.
“Mr. Prude’s death is an example of systems that were not set up, in fact were probably set up to harm him," Porter said. "Not necessarily designed that way, but the impact is the same independently of whether they were designed that way or not.”
Porter said that Prude’s death is an example of structural racism and how Black and brown people can be marginalized in our society.
“It allows us to bring the conversation to the table with an example that we can show, so that people can start to see it and to respond to it, and those are the conversations that I hope are happening in Rochester in places where they may not have happened before,” Porter said.
RMAPI is calling for reallocating funding and resources, particularly to make sure emergency calls like this are staffed by mental health professionals. The organization also wants to support legislation that helps decriminalize poverty, including eliminating unnecessary fines and fees and updating laws to reduce incarceration and eliminate unnecessary barriers to accessing employment, housing and other basic needs.