Chaotic clashes erupted in Rochester, New York for a third night on Friday in response to recently released police body cameras of the March arrest of Daniel Prude, a black man who died of suffocation a week later.
Rioters lit fires, destroyed property and threw objects at the police, who declared the riot an unlawful gathering after the evening began peacefully.
Protesters in New York City also became violent more than 300 miles away, reportedly leading to an unspecified number of arrests.
Suspended officers defended
Earlier on Friday, the chairman of the Rochester Police Union defended seven officers linked to Prude’s death, saying they had followed police protocol. A day earlier, the city̵
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“An officer has no way of deviating from the script,” union president Michael Mazzeo told reporters at a press conference, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. “They have to follow the protocol and do what they are trained to do.”
“An officer does not have the ability to deviate from the script. He must follow the protocol and do what he is trained to do.”
41-year-old Prude died of suffocation on March 30, with drug use playing a role after police placed a “spit bag” over his head when he was arrested a week earlier. The bag is designed to protect the police from possible infection from a suspect’s saliva.
The protest on Friday in Rochester started peacefully but soon became controversial and police declared an illegal gathering.
Officers fired tear gas and pepper balls at demonstrators to encourage them to disperse, the Democrat and the Chronicle reported.
In a video by an independent journalist, seditious protesters appeared to be destroying a restaurant while guests were eating outside.
New York police arrested several rioters in Manhattan on Friday night after several buildings were destroyed and reportedly caused thousands of dollars in damage.
The rioters were a small part of a larger peaceful protest in which demonstrators drove down Lafayette Street.
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Footage obtained from WNBC-TV in New York City appeared to show the black-clad rioters breaking off to smash the windows of a Starbucks and then reuniting with protesters marching down the street.
Jason Liang, who runs the cafe on Lafayette Street, described the vandalism as “disheartening”.
“You have the right to do what you want, but why violate other people’s property?” he said to WNBC. He said the location was already injured by the coronavirus and didn’t know if he could open the store on Saturday.
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Some nearby shops were also damaged.
“We are waiting for a more accurate number of arrests, a more precise location for the arrests and a more precise number of companies that have been devastated,” said WABC-TV.
The vandalism came a day after a car was plowed by a group of racial injustice protesters in Times Square.
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Officers had asked the driver to move the car along a route under the Marriott Marquis Hotel to avoid conflict with the protesters, New York City’s FOX 5 reported.
The driver ignored the request and drove into the crowd instead, the station reported.
No injuries were reported and no arrests were made.