Rochester's Mayor & Police Chief Respond To Questions About The Recent Demonstrations

Jul 11, 2016

Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Both Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief Michael Ciminelli say they are reviewing the circumstances involving last Friday's demonstrations and the subsequent arrest of more than 70 people. But  in general, both feel the police department acted appropriately.

The Black Lives Matter protests went on throughout the day on Friday, but it was the evening protest, where things got tense, and police chief Ciminelli says one reason he had his officers put on some of the riot gear was for their own protection, especially when he heard chatter earlier in the day that some rocks might be thrown.

He will review the various videos taken of the protest, but at this point, is not aware of excessive force used by police.

“The video I’ve seen, … I’ve not seen any video of anybody being struck with a baton, I’ve not seen any video of any OC spray, we did not use pepperball, we did not use teargas, we did not use tasers,” Ciminelli told reporters at City Hall late Monday afternoon.

Ciminelli says one of the big concerns Friday night was because the protest at East and Alexander, right in the heart of the entertainment district, was drawing verbal confrontations between some of the bar patrons and some of the protesters. And he and his command staff were worried about a riot type situation breaking out.

Mayor Warren stands by the chief, although she says there were probably things the city could do better in dealing with future demonstrations. And she also expressed empathy for the demonstrators and the issues they wanted to bring attention to in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We all have to live here together…we have to figure out a way, to do that in a way that respects the rights of all citizens.”  Warren says she met with some of the protest organizers on Sunday for about two hours.

(( Watch VIDEO of the news conference with the Mayor & Police Chief on our Facebook page.))