Who was arrested after Rochester protest? Days later, police still won’t say – Democrat & ChronicleCMS
Deputy Chief Mark Mura said the support the Rochester Police Department has received since Saturday’s vandalism, looting and unrest has been “overwhelming.”
Numerous Rochester businesses were ransacked after an hours-long peaceful Black Lives Matter protest held Saturday devolved into widespread vandalism and chaos. City officials said over businesses had been impacted.
The violence and looting came after, and separate from, the well-attended and orderly rally about policing issues and racial injustices motivated by the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd on May 25.
But Tuesday’s police update did little to provide concrete answers to many of the lingering questions remaining after businesses were ransacked, multiple police cars torched, and a county-wide curfew enacted.
Here are some of the questions still unanswered:
Outsiders cause damage?
City, county, and law enforcement officials relied on an outsider narrative when explaining who caused the Saturday’s chaos.
Public leaders in other cities from Buffalo to Denver where disturbances broke out have adopted similar language.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren later clarified her remarks to refer to people “outside the Black Lives Matter movement” and Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter labeled the agitators as “anarchists.” When pressed about the outsiders, both Mura and Capt. Frank Umbrino didn’t comment.
“Numerous arrests have been made in other jurisdictions and we’re communicating with them every day and sharing information to continue with our investigations going on in the city,” Umbrino said.
He continued, “If there is one person out there doing bad things, there are 10 people who are extremely upset that one person was out there stealing and committing vandalism.”
How many people have been arrested and where are they from?
So far, the department has confirmed 13 arrests. Police have not, however, provided names or residences for these arrests. Therefore, it is impossible to know if the people responsible for the chaos after the peaceful protest are true outsiders or if they are members of this community.
Officials claim there is still much to be sorted out, stating it is a “complex web” of events, according to one officer. It remains unclear how the agitators are connected, if they are connected at all, and who is responsible for what, police said.
Umbrino said “a wide array of people” were involved with this unrest but wouldn’t identify any particular groups. “We are going to do everything we can to not only hold them accountable for their behavior, but we’re going to see what maybe fueled their criminal activity,” Umbrino said.
Through its @PatrolRPD Twitter account, investigators have released numerous photos of suspected participants in Saturday’s unrest. Some have been identified, others have not, Umbrino said. He declined to reveal if any arrests have been made as a result of the posts. Some people have been identified because of the posts. Umbrino said the people in the photos may be suspects or witnesses.
More arrests were promised and more information will be released in the future. Umbrino expects people to be charged with offenses like burglary, arson, and rioting. Some could face federal charges, Umbrino said.
“If you were involved in that behavior, you need to be looking over your shoulder, because there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to come knocking on your door and taking you away,” he said.
Police in other communities join protests
Across the country, police have been joining in on many peaceful rallies. In small communities like Geneva, Ontario County, officers showed support for those calling for difficult conversations to continue.
In Niagara Falls, attendees at a rally there fist-bumped a line of attending officers as they left the gathering.
A California police chief kneeled with protesters. Law enforcement and elected officials joined protesters in Alaska. And police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, held a sign at a protest that read, “END POLICE BRUTALITY!!!”
As local leaders joined protesters across the nation to show solidarity in the wake of the death of Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, the #WalkWithUs and #KneelWithUs hashtags blossomed on social media.
Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua didn’t address the crowd or the media, but he attended Monday’s peaceful rally in the Seneca Lake city.
When asked if the department supported the message of the Black Lives Matter rally or if Rochester police would participate in future rallies, Mura declined to comment.
“We support our community’s First Amendment rights to protest in a peaceful manner,” Mura said. “… We will protect the good citizens of Rochester while other citizens are doing so.”
He continued, “I’m not going to comment on what other departments do.”
What’s the plan for future protests?
While Saturday’s rally attracted thousands to downtown Rochester, there was a much smaller gathering near the Monroe County Hall of Justice Monday afternoon. There are more outings planned in the future.
Mura said police try to reach out to protest organizers a few days before planned rallies. “We try to come up with some ground rules or understand with who is organizing that particular protest,” he said. “If you look at some of the footage for what took place Saturday, you’ll see a good majority of the peaceful protesters got into arguments and almost skirmishes with some of the folks that were doing the bad things.
“We’re here to support the good members of our community.”
Mura said “the entire department,” along with support from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police, is working to “take all precautions to ensure the safety of our community and citizens.”
Pointing to a large stack of bottled water, Mura said numerous community members have stepped up. Thousands of community residents the next morning helped clear the shattered glass and clean up stores, streets and other vandalized property.
Mura was unsure how many total businesses and buildings were damaged during Saturday’s unrest. “A lot,” he said. But he wanted to thank the community for helping out. City officials put the number at 86 affected.
The city’s Neighborhood and Business Development Division is encouraging impacted business owners to call NBD at (585) 429-7848.
“The community, as a whole, came together,” Mura said. “…The support we’ve been receiving as a department is amazing as well. We’ve gotten donations of water, food. That’s the uplifting part.”
“I’m here today just to give you an uplifting piece about what our community is doing as whole to support us and to support the community.”
Contact Victoria Freile at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vfreile and Instagram @vfreile. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.
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