Max Schulte / WXXI News

As demonstrators gathered in downtown Rochester last week in protests against police brutality spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Dr. Linda Clark started to get nervous.

Clark, the president of the Black Physician’s Network of Greater Rochester, said she was concerned that the protests would bring members of Monroe County’s black community -- already at high risk of dying from COVID-19 -- into closer contact with more people, spreading the disease even further.

Then, she thought of the long-term implications of the demonstrations.

Rochester rallies continue in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Jun 6, 2020
Max Schulte / WXXI News

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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging the thousands of New Yorkers who are participating in social justice protests to get tested for the coronavirus to help prevent another potential outbreak. 

Cuomo said there are enough tests available now for everyone who participated in a protest to get tested. He said even though most demonstrators wore masks, it was a crowded environment, and they should just assume that they were exposed to the virus. 

“If you were at a protest, go get a test, please,” Cuomo said. “The protesters have a civic duty here, also. Be responsible. Get a test.”  

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The Rev. Lewis Stewart and the United Christian Leadership Ministry spoke Monday in support of this weekend’s Black Lives Matter rally -- but said the rioting and looting that followed do not honor the memory of George Floyd. 

Floyd's death on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck sparked protests across the country, including in Rochester. 

We continue our conversation about the events of the weekend, about the Black Lives Matter movement, and about broader issues of race and police-community relations across the country.

Our guests:

  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office, and lead singer for Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and adjunct professor
  • Anthony Hall, dean at Vertus Charter High School for Young Men, and executive director of BOOKBAGS Express
  • Justin Morris, community activist

The events in American cities over the last several days, including Rochester, have revealed the depth of decades of pain. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says the protests have been important and peaceful, but the looting shows that the community can fall into a trap set by people outside of the movement.

This hour, our guests discuss those issues and more:

  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office, and lead singer for Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and adjunct professor
  • Lavelle Lewis, self-employed real estate investor, and volunteer organizer for Rochester's weekend cleanup efforts

Noelle E.C. Evans / WXXI

Despite the mayhem that happened throughout parts of Rochester Saturday night, with vandalism and looting in some neighborhoods, Mayor Lovely Warren said on Sunday that the fact that more than 2,000 volunteers showed up at Frontier Field to aid cleanup efforts throughout the city represents “the Rochester we know and love.”

Max Schulte/WXXI News

The city of Rochester and Monroe County were put under a curfew Saturday night after what began as a peaceful protest of hundreds of demonstrators descended into chaos outside the Rochester Police Department, replete with flipped city cars, a police cruiser set ablaze, and tear gas.

Hundreds of people participated in Saturday's rally to protest the death of George Floyd, the man killed after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Similar demonstrations were held across the country.

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

The global climate strike, a worldwide event to bring awareness to climate change, was a focus at the University of Rochester on Friday. Students organized a teach-in with speakers from groups working to combat the climate crisis. 


Ashley Bardhan is a senior at the university and one of the organizers of the teach-in. She says she was moved to take action because national and international leaders aren’t doing enough to curb climate change. 

In a recent op-ed for the Guardian, writer LA Kauffman warned activists protesting the Trump administration’s policies that marching is not enough. Kauffman writes that while the number of marches across the country continues to rise, protesters need to take additional, more tangible steps to make an impact.

So what do those steps look like? We sit down with local activists who discuss their strategies and what they think will make a difference when it comes to changing policies. In studio: