Observations from a night of remembrance in Rochester
ROCHESTER — It was a night of tears, music and food as hundreds of people joined the family of Daniel Prude to celebrate his life on the street where he suffocated.
Prude, 41, of Chicago, died in March of injuries he suffered while being restrained by Rochester police. His death was kept secret by the city of Rochester for months, and was only revealed when his family came forward last week to plead for justice.
The revelation has sparked eight straight nights of protests. Wednesday's protests, while including a tense standoff outside the Public Safety Building, were peaceful and resulted in no arrests.
But on Thursday night there were no protests, there were no pepper balls. The outrage still exists, but it was subdued during the community's celebration of Prude's life.
Here are observations, photos and videos from the two Democrat and Chronicle journalists who are following tonight's events — photographer Tina MacIntyre-Yee and reporter Will Cleveland. This story is published in reverse chronological order.
10:30 p.m.: Rainfall; event begins to end
In the rain, the mood remains joyful with free food and live music. Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC reminds people to take care of themselves. The crowd displays joy throughout the evening, while there were tears as well.
9:40 p.m.: Comforting his dad
Joe Prude says to those gathered that police are afraid of the power of the people.
A half-hour earlier, the crowd welcomed Daniel Prude's father, Joe Cole, and other relatives.
Joe Prude embraced his father, who wept. He also comforted his sister, Tameshay Prude; also on hand, his aunt Towale Moore of Chicago and Joe Prude’s wife, Valerie.
"We don’t even know each other, but look at the amount of love here," Joe Prude says.
Meanwhile, artists Chaz Bruce and Agape Towns perform. The crowd begins to dance.
A drone flies overhead.
8:33 p.m.: 'I've got to get free'
Danielle Ponder says the evening is an opportunity for a breather, citing collective trauma and injury that has occurred within the activist community over the past nine days. It's a breather and a time of self care.
She addresses the crowd — now more than 200 people and growing — about criticism of protesters on Facebook and sings to the protesters. "Don't matter what those people say about me. Gotta love myself. I've got to get free!"
During the gathering, Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC, steps forward and shares the purpose of the celebration of life event. "Tonight is about #DanielPrude, his family," she says, recapping what their demands are.
The crowd erupts as family members, including Daniel’s father, arrive.
Nearby, Gail Vail of Henrietta and Barb Buscaglia of Rochester are preparing food from donations given for the crowd, including the elders and allies within the group.
8:07 p.m.: 'You can't give in'
The crowd tops 100. R&B/soul artist Danielle Ponder describes what has happened over the last week as a multi-generational, multi-racial Black-led movement.
"Sometimes you get tired, but you can’t give in," Ponder says. "You can’t give up or give in. The movement must continue."
7:42 p.m.: Reporters directed to move; community gives away food, haircuts
A Community Celebrating the life of Daniel Prude event starts small. Will Cleveland tweets before 7:30 that 'we’ve been directed to move down the street to 584 Jefferson.'
The Community Justice Initiative typically serves food biweekly at various locations. They're at Jefferson Avenue and Dr. Samuel McCree this evening, giving away food to anyone who wants it. Barber Chicko Dillard set up a chair in the area for a free haircut.