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Rochester, New York City see violent clashes following Daniel Prude video release

Chaotic clashes continued in Rochester, N.Y., for a third night Friday in reaction to recently released police body-camera footage of the March arr

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Chaotic clashes continued in Rochester, N.Y., for a third night Friday in reaction to recently released police body-camera footage of the March arrest of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation a week later.

Rioters set fires, vandalized property and threw objects at police, who declared the unrest an unlawful assembly after the evening started peacefully, reports said.

More than 300 miles away, protesters in New York City also turned violent, resulting in an unspecified number of arrests, according to reports.

Suspended officers defended

Earlier Friday, the leader of Rochester’s police union defended seven officers linked to Prude’s death, saying they followed police protocol. A day earlier, the city’s mayor suspended the officers, pending an investigation into the case.

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“An officer doesn’t have the ability to go off-script,” union President Michael Mazzeo told reporters at a news conference, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. “They have to follow protocol and do what they are trained to do.”

“An officer doesn’t have the ability to go off-script. They have to follow protocol and do what they are trained to do.”

— Michael Mazzeo, Rochester police union president

Prude, 41, died March 30 of asphyxiation, with drug use a contributing factor, after police placed a “spit bag” over his head during his arrest a week earlier. The bag is intended to protect police from possible infection from a suspect’s saliva.

Friday’s protest in Rochester started off peaceful but soon turned contentious and police declared an unlawful assembly.

Officers fired tear gas and pepper balls at protesters in an attempt to get them to disperse, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

In video taken by an independent journalist, riotous protesters appeared to vandalize a restaurant while diners ate outside.

Buildings vandalized

New York City police arrested several rioters in Manhattan on Friday night after several buildings were vandalized, reportedly causing thousands of dollars in damage.

The rioters were a small segment of a larger peaceful protest that saw marchers travel down Lafayette Street.

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Footage obtained by WNBC-TV in New York City appeared to show the rioters, dressed in black, breaking off to smash windows of a Starbucks, then joining back up with protesters marching down the street.

Demonstrators clash with police officers a block from the Public Safety Building in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 4, 2020, after a rally and march protesting the death of Daniel Prude. (Associated Press)

Demonstrators clash with police officers a block from the Public Safety Building in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 4, 2020, after a rally and march protesting the death of Daniel Prude. (Associated Press)

Jason Liang, who operates the Lafayette Street coffee shop called the vandalism “disheartening.”

“You’ve got the right to do whatever you want but why hurt other people’s property?” he said to WNBC. He said the location was already hurting due to the coronavirus and didn’t know if he’d be able to open the store Saturday.

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Some nearby businesses also were damaged.

“We are waiting on a more precise number of arrests, location for the arrests and a more precise number of businesses that were vandalized,” police officials said, according to WABC-TV.

The vandalism came a day after a car plowed through a group of racial-injustice protesters in Times Square.

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Officers had asked the driver to move the car through 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 instead drove into the crowd, the station reported.

No injuries have been reported and no arrests have been made.

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