WXXI AM News

Police

A group of pastors and faith leaders has published a letter in regards to the recent protest movement led by Free the People Roc. They're planning a Friday event, and they join us to discuss how they see the demands from the protest leaders, as well as the current climate in the Rochester region.

Our guests:

Max Schulte/WXXI News

The president of the union representing Rochester police officers on Monday offered tepid praise for the selection of Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan as the city's new interim police chief.


Free the People Roc has called for a temporary pause to daily or nightly protests in Rochester. Their goal is to rest and prepare for the next phase of work to enact significant and lasting change. So what is the end goal? Are their demands negotiable? Can they work with the mayor, after calling for Mayor Warren's resignation?

Our guest joins us for her first conversation on Connections since the story of Daniel Prude went public. Ashley Gantt was recently profiled by City Newspaper for her work in organizing, and now she's one of the most visible leaders in Rochester. Our guest:

The death of Daniel Prude has led to questions about how police are trained to handle a variety of situations. Marvin Stepherson retired as a police sergeant with 25 years of service in local law enforcement. He now teaches at Roberts Wesleyan, and comments regularly on police-community relations.

Stepherson talks about how he sees the Prude case and what kind of change is possible within police structures. Our guest:

  • Marvin Stepherson, professor of criminal justice at Roberts Wesleyan College, and retired police sergeant 

The Rochester Police command staff met with City Council members and Mayor Lovely Warren via Zoom on Thursday about the ongoing unrest in the city. 

There have been daily protests about the alleged coverup of the death of Daniel Prude after police restrained him in March. Some of those demonstrations ended with police firing pepper balls and using gas to disperse crowds last weekend. The last few protests ended quietly and officers didn’t use force.

Former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson says the newly formed commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) was not informed of Daniel Prude’s death. Johnson says the commission has important work to do and can help lead the city forward. He joins us to talk about the Prude case and what we should expect of city leaders.

Our guest:

  • Bill Johnson, former Rochester mayor and co-chair of the RASE Commission

When Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon, it came as a surprise to Mayor Lovely Warren and members of Rochester City Council. Members of Council learned of the resignation during the first of what will be regular public briefings with the mayor -- meetings that Council requested to discuss interactions between protesters and police officers. In a letter to the mayor last week, Council members called for officers involved in the Prude case to be placed on administrative leave, said charges against protesters should be dropped, and called for more funding for the Monroe County Forensic Intervention Team, which partners with the county's Office of Mental Health.

This hour, we're joined by members of Council to discuss all of this and broader issues surrounding the Prude case. Our guests:

Nationally renowned civil rights expert Eric Ward has spent years studying hate violence and its relationship to preserving democratic institutions. His work examines white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and police-community relations. Ward will be the keynote speaker for Jewish Federation's upcoming Summit to End Hate.

This hour, we preview that event and talk with Ward and his fellow panelists about the recent events in Rochester and how communities can work to eliminate structural inequality. Our guests:

  • Eric Ward, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and executive director of the Western States Center
  • Kevin Beckford, director of staff diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Rochester, and co-chair of the steering committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester's Levine Center to End Hate
  • Taj Smith, director of diversity education at RIT, and member of the steering committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester's Levine Center to End Hate
  • Meredith Dragon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
  • Karen Elam, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester's Levine Center to End Hate

The notion of an "Elder Shield" got a lot of publicity Sunday night in Rochester, but it first came into effect during previous nights of demonstrations. However, police still fired pepper balls into the crowd. We talk to two of the community leaders who were on the front lines. They also discuss what nonviolence means during such tense times.

Our guests:

  • Rev. Marlowe Washington, pastor at Seneca United Methodist Church
  • Kit Miller, director of the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
  • Melanie Funchess, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group, and director of community engagement at the Mental Health Association of Rochester

Rochester City Council sent a letter to the mayor Thursday asking that protesters be allowed to peacefully demonstrate following the death of Daniel Prude. Thursday night, Rochester police fired many rounds of pepper balls, and a New York Times reporter described RPD as behaving more aggressively than police in other cities where protests have taken place.

We talk to members of Council about their oversight powers and what they expect to happen next. Our guests:

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