Last year, the entire world watched in horror Rochester Police Department’s militarized, brutal response to peaceful protest over the murders of so many Black people, one of them in our city. Now national attention is turned to last week’s appalling assault of a nine year-old child in emotional crisis. RPD has defended the brutal physicality, illegal handcuffing, and pepper spraying her in the face, falsely claiming policy demands such outrages. Body camera footage confirms vicious language and insupportable violence, but as before, and as always, the response of city officials has been cosmetic and evasive.
Enough Is Enough, which has supported Rochesterians who have been brutalized by RPD over the last seven years, has advocated with other powerful community groups for rethinking our entire system of policing. The inept and arrogant response of RPD demands that we limit their response to crisis, as other cities are doing with their police departments, instead supporting with those financial resources the agencies and social organizations trained in de-escalation, empathetic skills, and resources. Sending armed, violent, and unskilled officers into volatile but resolvable domestic and social situations is crude and useless. We advocate for, demand, the reassessment of RPD’s budget, allocating the larger part of its excessive support to the Police Accountability Board and the many agencies who can better deal with community crises.
Mayor Warren has repeatedly proved herself duplicitous and uncaring, drawing the attention of the NYS Attorney General to our city’s irresponsible reactions to RPD’s excesses. We call for her removal. The new chief of police has been as evasive and irresponsible as her predecessor, and if she does not immediately support and facilitate the reassessment of RPD’s role in the community, we will work for her replacement. We demand the firing of the officer who dealt so brutally with this child, and for harsh discipline of the officers who participated without stopping this atrocity.
Rochester has long been known for vicious policing, shaming our city in the decades from RPD’s provoking the 1964 uprising of the Black community against unchecked brutality to the dreadful murderous behavior in the last year. This incident with the now traumatized 9 year-old girl is one of countless abuses, luckily caught on camera as most are not. We want a city of justice and compassion and call on Rochester residents to advocate for defunding police abuse and reallocating resources for those who make substantial difference in our the lives and neighborhoods.