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Hundreds gather for celebration of the life of Daniel Prude


For more than a week, Rochester had been on edge as nightly protests over the death of Daniel Prude, racial injustice, and police brutality rang through the streets, at times being met with tear gas, PepperBalls, and police dogs.

But Thursday offered a stark departure to the routine, as demonstrators never left the intersection on Jefferson Avenue where they have been mobilizing for their marches and instead hunkered down for an emotional celebration of Prude’s life.

Hundreds of people gathered at the corner of Jefferson and Dr. Samuel McCree Way, where Prude was arrested and suffocated by police on March 23. He died a week later after the encounter left him in a vegetative state.

The common refrains of the protests, such as “No justice, no peace” and “Which side are you on?” were replaced by emotion eulogies from members of the Prude family, dancing, and local musicians Danielle Ponder and Chaz Bruce belting covers of Lauryn Hill and James Brown.

“They say we don’t have the decency to be out here around each other, but what are we showing them right now?” said Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, who called 911 for help for Daniel the night he was arrested. “I’m serious, what are we showing them?”

“Love!” the crowd shouted back in unison.

Protest organizers seized the celebration to encourage civic engagement, including filling out the 2020 census and voting in November.

“We’ve been out here marching by the thousands, do not forget that we will be marching to the polls on the first day of early voting,” Ashley Gantt, of Free the People Roc, told the audience over the microphone.

The group has pledged to continue protesting nightly until their demands are met, which include the resignation of Mayor Lovely Warren and the creation of “Daniel’s Law,” a law prohibiting police from responding to mental health crises.

But Thursday was a respite.

“This is a time for some self-care,” Gantt said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or