Green Party of Monroe County
Thursday, October 8, 2009
(The following account is one writer’s observations. I’m sure the police will see it much differently.)
I arrived at Funk The War II a bit late. There were at least 50 people there, mostly college age, with various percussive instruments and signs. By around 5:30pm, the “rally” started with everyone coming together to hear someone from SDS read their demands:
*The US needs to get out of Iraq & Afghanistan
*Demilitarize our schools
*Money for education, not war
After this, the march started. We went from Washington Square Park through Bauch & Lomb Drive to N. Clinton. From there we went to Main & Clinton – the entire time on the sidewalk.
Once we reached Main & Clinton, the group started marching west on Main Street; this time in the road (in the westbound lane only). It was an act of civil disobedience. I have no idea if it was pre-planned – the organizers did not say. Everyone marching followed.
We made it a block (Main & St. Paul) before police cars started pulling ahead of us trying to block our way. We walked around them two or three times. By the time we had made it to the Main Street Bridge the police were able to fashion their cars so that the only place we had to go was the sidewalk, which we pretty much did, but not before they arrested one person – the only black kid in the group. They handcuffed him and were about to put him in their squad car and a relatively older woman approached them and told the police to let him go. They arrested her.
By this time, everyone was on the sidewalk. We couldn’t continue west on Main as the police formed a wall on the sidewalk, but we did not disperse. They proceeded to beat a number of protesters, punching them and wrestling them to the ground. Most of us began slowly going back up Main towards Clinton, to return to the park. The police followed us back. Once we returned, the police then approached the group demanding we disperse – we didn’t have a permit. We were threatened with arrest and an ambulance arrived, in anticipation of more beatings, I guess.
It was then that the crowd slowly dispersed.
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I am disgusted with what I saw. They had absolutely no idea of what was going on. Arrests? Fine. That’s what happens with civil disobedience. But the protest was FOR peace. The beatings protesters took were completely inappropriate. You do not respond to non-compliance with violence. No one was in danger by the protest, but they sure were by the reaction of the police.
I did not have a video camera, but others did. I will post links &/or embed them as soon as they are online.
The Rochester Police Department should be ashamed, though I know that they won’t be. Who exactly were they protecting or serving with this?
UPDATE: So far, the news outlets in Rochester are reporting, generally, whatever the police are saying. YNN just reported the police statements without talking to protesters. Channel 10 mentioned statements from protesters but did not talk about injuries and are skewed towards the police version. The D&C has a short clip as of 11pm that doesn’t say much but does mention one injury (and the reader comments were – as usual – ignorant and sad). Channel 13 did not report on it (but did have a report on how Buffalo Bills use Twitter). I was not able to get Channel 8′s newscast.
The misinformation that is being put out by the police is that we blocked a fire truck that was on a call. What happened is that the march reached Main & St. Paul at the same time a fire truck was a few hundred yards away down St. Paul. Some of the protesters were in the middle of the intersection before we realized what was happening. We moved back at the same time police started pushing us back, we were not trying to block anything. Our march was to SAVE lives, not jeopardize them.
2ND UPDATE: After sending YNN an e-mail complaining about their coverage, they e-mailed me to ask for contact info for one of the people who ended up at the hospital. If anyone’s in contact with these folks, let them know that YNN is looking to talk to them. I let one of the protest organizers know as well.
This article was posted: Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 9:30 am