Naked protesters wearing ‘spit hoods’ demand justice for Daniel Prude’s death

Naked except for “spit hoods” in a reference to the killing of Daniel Prude, several protesters sat outside Rochester’s police headquarters Monday morning to push for police accountability, local news outlets reported.

Photos and video showed the demonstrators, some with “Black Lives Matter” written on their backs, sitting silently with their hands behind them, on a rain-slicked street outside the city Public Safety Building. The Democrat & Chronicle reported that after a time, the demonstrators were given blankets and left in cars.

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, died after police found him running naked in a street March 23, put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He died a week later after he was taken off life support.

His brother, Joe Prude, had called 911 seeking help for Daniel Prude’s unusual behaviour. He had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night but released after a few hours, his brother told officers.

His death sparked outrage after his relatives on Wednesday released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.

Seven police officers were suspended Thursday, and state Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday she would form a grand jury and conduct an “exhaustive investigation” into Prude’s death. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary have faced calls for their resignations over the delay in releasing details of Prude’s death.

Police union officials have said the officers were following their training.

Protesters have demanded police accountability and legislation to change how authorities respond to mental health emergencies.

Nightly demonstrations continued Sunday, when police said more than 1,000 protesters marched to the Public Safety Building.

Previous nights’ demonstrations intensified into clashes between police and protesters, with officers dousing activists with a chemical spray and firing what appeared to be pepper balls to drive them from barricades around the headquarters building. At points, fireworks were shot off and a bus stop was set ablaze.

Local media said there were no such confrontations Sunday night, when community elders served as a buffer between protesters and police.

The Police Department said no arrests were made.

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