RPD chief says department 'will not stand' for large fights like Friday's

Andrew Hyman
Updated: May 23, 2020 11:45 PM
Created: May 23, 2020 07:33 PM

ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) – “We will not stand for this behavior."

It's the message both Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and city council vice president Willie Lightfoot are saying after police responded to another fight among a large group of people Friday night.

RPD responded to a call of a large group around the area of Joseph Avenue and Boston Street around 9:30, police say they encountered a group of roughly 200-300 people, some of whom were fighting.

It’s the latest gathering to turn violent in the city. On May 18, two RPD officers suffered minor injuries while trying to disperse a crowd of about 100 people gathering for a memorial on Chili Avenue near Salina Street.

In a statement Saturday, Chief Singletary said:

“Aside from the obvious disregard for social distancing guidelines and the health of others; large disruptive gatherings are a nuisance to our fellow citizens who would like to enjoy the comfort of their homes and neighborhoods during this pandemic. Often times, the unsanctioned parties result in violence and disruption to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

At the scene Friday night, police arrested a 29-year-old woman for possession of an illegal handgun and arrested a 30-year-old woman for disorderly conduct.

Both Singletary and Mayor Lovely Warren recently stressed social distancing measures, and urged residents to "protect their circles." Warren previously addressed education when it comes to large gatherings after receiving some criticism for not breaking up a vigil in which more than 100 people gathered to mourn the death of a shooting victim on April 12.

On Saturday, those sentiments were echoed by Lightfoot, who told News10NBC he was "frustrated" and "disappointed" in reaction to Friday night’s incident. Lightfoot referenced COVID-19’s impact on black and Latino communities, and said large gatherings "put a lot of people in harm’s way."

"We're educating and that's all good,” Lightfoot said. “But at some point if this stuff continues, we got to have a conversation that's much more strategic about enforcement."

In concluding his statement, Chief Singletary said the following:

“Any and all violations of local, state, and federal laws will be strictly enforced with regard to these unsanctioned gatherings and parties. The Rochester Police Department will continue to serve and protect the good citizens of our city.”

While specific enforcement was not mentioned, Singletary previously told News10NBC tickets would be handed out "as a last resort." Police did tell News10NBC that the increase in patrols might not be specifically to look for large gatherings, but rather a routine increase during the Memorial Day weekend. 

News10NBC reached out to the city for comment but were deferred to RPD. 

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