WXXI AM News

Black Lives Matter rally and march ends with some arrests in Rochester

Jul 7, 2018

A Black Lives Matter protest that started peacefully Saturday afternoon ended in arrests four hours later after some protesters staged a sit-in that closed roads into downtown Rochester.

After rallying in Washington Square Park, more than a hundred protesters, including families with small children, set off on a march down Broad Street. They stopped at several points along the way to stage a die-in and a teach-in, while police looked on and controlled traffic.

Christopher Coles, also known as "Bakaripoet," was one of the speakers at the rally...where he called on more of the community to come out not just with sympathy but as allies.

"Every day I walk out of my house I put my body on the line. every day I go to my job I risk everything and if you are not willing to risk and lose something, there's a difference between sympathy and ally-ship."

Coles said he'd like to have seen more supporters there - quoting Martin Luther King Junior on the danger of moderation.

"It's not the people who are oppressors of black people, it's not black people themselves it's the people in the middle who have decided to inaction. The love and support of the crowd is here but there's still a lot of inaction about people who haven't decided yet what their position is either way, so we could do better."

A crowd of more than a hundred protesters marched from the park toward Union Street, staging sit-ins at several spots along the way while police looked on and diverted traffic.

The tone of the rally changed as it returned down Woodbury Boulevard to Clinton Avenue. About 20 protesters sat down in the middle of the intersection...drawing a more intense police response that closed off several downtown streets for more than two hours.

As some protesters taunted police, officers in riot gear eventually began making arrests.

RPD says that 16 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, which isĀ  a violation. They are expected to be arraigned on Monday morning.

The intersection was eventually cleared with some of the demonstrators gathering again in Washington Square Park Saturday night before eventually leaving the park.

Unlike a similar protest in 2016 in Rochester that ended in violence, the arrests on Saturday were made without incident.