Rochester rallies continue in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Jun 6, 2020

Hundreds gather at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in downtown Rochester on Saturday
Credit Gino Fanelli/CITY Newspaper

Saturday brought another day of protests around the country and in Rochester, with the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial and social justice movements making their voices heard.

The recent protests were sparked by the death last month of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, but they have covered a number of other incidents in recent years involving black Americans as well as the broader issues surrounding social justice.

In Rochester hundreds showed up at a gathering at the Liberty Pole at noon, and then about an hour later, many of those protestors joined a larger crowd at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Manhattan Square. Thousands of people eventually marched through parts of the city.

One of the organizers, Stanley Martin, called on local authorities to release people arrested following vandalism that happened last weekend.

Hundreds gathered at the Liberty Pole in Rochester Saturday for a Black Lives Matter rally
Credit April Franklin/WXXI News

“We do not support continuing to criminalize poor people, black people, and people who are fighting for their rights. Instead, we demand all charged be dropped , and the city figures out where the rage is coming from, where the anger is coming from and focus the money that they give to the police, on giving it back to the people of our city,” Martin said.

The vandalism last weekend happened after the main, peaceful protest was wrapping up, and it included damage to police and other vehicles near the Public Safety Building downtown, and incidents involving damage and looting at commercial buidings at night in various parts of the city.

The protesters this week who gathered at MLK Park then marched over to Parcel 5, meeting up with other groups of people who had been demonstrating downtown. 

At Parcel 5, the crowd observed 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to mark the amount of time prosecutors say George Floyd was pinned to the ground under an officer's knee before he died.

The demonstrators later marched down East Avenue to Alexander Street, then onto Park Avenue, and down Berekely St. to Monroe Avenue, where they paused, and again read a list of demands.

A memorial for black lives was scheduled for 5 pm Saturday, also at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Rochester. And there were some other rallies and demonstrations around the region on Saturday, including one in Brighton at Buckland Park.