Daniel Prude Protesters Pepper Balled After Protest Declared Unlawful

Shortly after Rochester, New York police declared Saturday night's Daniel Prude protest an unlawful gathering, police reportedly fired tear gas and pepper balls on the crowd.

The protests in Rochester had been peaceful with no arrests, until shortly after 10:20 p.m., according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The RPD said in a statement released to the Democrat & Chronicle that at 10:20 p.m., the crowd started to throw bottles at police, leading officers to order the crowd to disperse.

Shortly after, the paper reports, explosions were heard, and police confirmed they fired pepper balls and tear gas in order to control the crowd. The tear gas and pepper balls were fired after someone lit a firework, multiple witnesses told the newspaper. This was confirmed by RPD, who said officers were hit by the fireworks as well as rocks.

Reporter Will Cleveland from the Democrat & Chronicle shared a video on Twitter of photojournalist Shawn Dowd reacting after being hit with the pepper balls and tear gas.

.@sdowdphoto just got help from a medic after pepper balls and tear gas dispersed in his face. #roc @DandC pic.twitter.com/krgThMfZ6O

— Will Cleveland (@WillCleveland13) September 6, 2020

As of 10:45 p.m., armored vehicles arrived on the scene and much of the crowd was dispersed, the paper said.

The protest was organized by Free the People Roc, and, according to Spectrum News, the group is calling for the resignations of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and RPD Chief La'Ron Singletary.

The group started their march on the street where Prude was originally restrained by police, and marched to City Hall. Police estimate 1,500 protesters were involved in the march.

Newsweek reached out to the RPD for comment.

daniel prude
Demonstrators march for Daniel Prude on September 4, 2020 in Rochester, New York. Prude died after being arrested on March 23, by Rochester police officers who had placed a "spit hood" over his head and pinned him to the ground while restraining him. Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Protests have raged in the city for the past four nights, after body camera footage of Prude's death was released. In the footage, recorded March 30, officers can be seen holding his face to the ground after putting a spit hood over his head. According to the medical examiner, Prude died of asphyxiation "in the setting of physical restraint." He was unarmed.

Though Daniel Prude was from Chicago, he was in Rochester visiting his brother Joe Prude. Joe Prude said he called police for help at 3 a.m. on March 30, after Daniel left the house.

"I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched," Joe Prude said in a press conference. "How did you see him and not directly say, 'The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He's cuffed up already.' How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?"

On Thursday, Warren announced that the seven officers involved in the arrest had been suspended. In addition, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that she was empanelling a grand jury to investigate Daniel Prude's death.

James told reporters that the officers involved in the case "have not been made available" to investigators, though did not yet say why, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

"The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish," James said in a statement. "My office will immediately move to empanel a grand jury as part of our exhaustive investigation into this matter."