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Monroe County, Rochester prepares for protests

Lynette Adams
Updated: June 05, 2020 12:27 PM
Created: June 05, 2020 05:13 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Nearly a week after a peaceful protest downtown ended in violence, Rochester and Monroe County are bracing for more protests on Friday.

There's a protest scheduled in Rochester for Friday afternoon, no one knows what to expect. In a social media post, representatives of Black Lives Matter say the group will continue its quote "peaceful stance" this afternoon.

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Businesses around the Liberty Pole area have already boarded up their windows and doors, fearful that what happened last week could happen again Friday.

The social media post goes on to say, “We will hold a silent protest. We will occupy the space in the submissive positions that black people have been killed in: sitting, standing with hands behinds back, lying on the ground." This is, of course, in reference to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and so many other African Americans.

However, many people are not fearful of the protest, but of the violence that could happen afterward. Last week, violent looting broke out as a Black Lives Matter rally was ending.

Looters damaged city vehicles, turning them over and setting them on fire. Across the city, groups of people looted stores and businesses, taking merchandise and leaving some places in shambles.

Hesham "Frenchy" Hussein  a local business owner said the violence was "heartbreaking."

"It was just heartbreaking to see everything we built getting taken away within seconds it was literally over 200 people in this store running in and out it's just," said. "It's crazy, it's real crazy.”

News10NBC's Lynette Adams spoke with Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary Friday morning ahead of the protest. Read the full interview below:

Adams: What is the strategy, what's the plan going into today's protest?

Singletary: We want people to protest peacefully you know people have a right to protest and that's what we want to protect. But what people don't have a right to do is put other people's lives in danger, put people's property in danger when you start to vandalized property. People have a right to own a business as well. As a law enforcement entity what we have to do is ensure that right is protected. So, this week, what we've done is reach out to many organizers and a protester to help facilitate the protest...As I said last night, you know, people are you know speaking out, they have a voice and that voice needs to be heard, and we need to listen to that and I think law enforcement leaders across the country are doing just that.

Adams: How do you begin to bridge that gap between the community and police and, you know, the inks and anxiety on both sides?

Singletary: So, I think what we have to do is we have to have a conversation, we have to have dialogue, we need to take it a step further, we need to put action into place. After that dialogue occurs and those conversations are had, I think, in Rochester we do have a good working relationship with our community. Are we perfect? Absolutely not, you know, there is always room for improvement. Every organization should be trying to do that and that's what we do every single day, try to professionalize our organization and provide that customer service that I think people have known here in Rochester. I think I have a record since I've been chief for the last year, of holding people accountable. I don't think we don't have a lot of issues that other police departments have across the country, and I've been holding people accountable. I think that we have checks and balances in place. We have a professional standards section where people can call if they feel they have a grievance against a police officer or also they can call my office at 428-7033. Provide that information to us. But by far we have a great police department here in this city and I think we have a lot of support by many people in this city because the men and women of the Rochester Police Department do provide a service that is professional and top-notch.

Adams: I know you're also holding some of the looters (accountable) and people last weekend who are responsible for the violence. Can you give us an update on that investigation?

Singletary: Yes, so we continue to pursue leads. The community has been great with providing information because again, these people have a right to own a business and we must protect that right you know to own and operate a business in this city. And, you know, we would do everything possible to hold individuals accountable.

Adams: Quickly, any advisories for people who work downtown, anything that you want to communicate to them?

Singletary: We're going to be out here we're going to be assuring that the public is safe, we're going to be assuring that businesses are safe as well because that's what we want to do. And we hope that individuals come out and protest peacefully. That's what we want to do as an agency... we want to protect people's first amendment right.

The protest is planned for 1 p.m. outside the Monroe County Office Building. The county office building will be closed.

RTS has said it may suspend services downtown.

In the Finger Lakes, Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson tells us a protest is also scheduled in Canandaigua for Friday.


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