CDR Condemns the murder of Daniel Prude

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Dara Baldwin

“The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) headquartered in the city of Rochester, is appalled by the horrific murder of Daniel Prude, at the hands of members of the Rochester Police Department. We are in solidarity with the community and his family demanding justice for his killing” – Bruce Darling, President/CEO of CDR.

Mr. Prude was a 41yr old Black man with a mental health diagnosis, who was in crisis back in March 2020 and should have been treated with care from the community. Instead he was vilified and suffocated to death by law enforcement.

The struggle and fight to end the racist actions of harm and murder of Black people by law enforcement in this country has not ended. This has been proven yet again with the horrific murder of Daniel Prude at the hands of a number of police officers. The Monroe County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide. On March 23rd, Daniel Prude had his head placed in a hood and his hands in handcuffs, while police officers knelt on his naked body in wet cold snow in the middle of the street and suffocated him. He was later pronounced dead at that hospital.

From NBC News post 9/3/2020:

“Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me. I must apologize to the Prude family and to all of our community.” – Mayor Lovely Warren – Rochester, NY

In this country there are stigma associated with having a mental health diagnosis that lead to the discrimination, marginalization and killing of many. We believe that when people are in crisis and need assistance, this help must come from the community and must be done through peer-to-peer services that are led by the people. We do not believe in forced treatment of care referred to as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) or Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) by clinicians. We are completely against involving any type of law enforcement for this treatment.

CDR works to create a world where all people with disabilities can live an Independent and safe life through The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which granted all disabled people civil rights. “We advocate for the end of use of force, choke holds, sexual assault and any other forms of bodily and mental harm of all people by law enforcement. These killings are done on a regular basis and at a higher rate to Black bodies. The movement for #BlackLivesMatter has been at the forefront of this work and we support their work as well as the work of #BlackDisabledLivesMatter.” -Dara Baldwin, Director of National Policy, CDR

The City of Rochester has suspended seven police officers in the murder of Daniel Prude. The State Attorney General took over this case on April 16, 2020. This is in accordance with the new NY state law signed in June by Governor Cuomo.

From CNN post 9/3/2020:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law in June that designates the attorney general as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement. The measure is technically codifying an executive order Cuomo mandated in 2014 in the wake of Eric Garner’s death after he was placed in a chokehold by a police officer.

This is a start to justice for the Prude family, but there is much more work to do in Rochester, NY and around this country to end the killing for Black people by law enforcement. CDR works on a federal level with Congress to obtain this change. We sent a letter of opposition to Congress for the Justice in Policing Act H.R. 7120 introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Because this bill is not transformative, does not eliminate Qualified Immunity or lower the standard of prosecution for law enforcement. We also opposed the Senate version The Justice Act S. 3985 introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) because it is completely void of any alteration and does not address any of the concerns that can stop the killing of Black people by police. It is time for Congress to be bold with serious revolutionary policy change that will create a pathway to the end of these murders. Time is of the essence as every minute that ticks by another Black person is either harmed or killed by racist law enforcement.

CDR will be part of the solution working in community and in solidarity with Black people to create change. The work for justice in Rochester will continue and we will hold the Mayor, Police Department and all officials of the city accountable. We will persist in protecting the rights of all disabled people which includes people with mental health diagnosis, as well as those who are multi-marginalized because of their many identities. We send our deepest and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Daniel Prude.

For more information on this work contact Dara Baldwin, Director of National Policy

In honor of the work of #BlackDisabledLivesMatter we have placed these posters on the side of our building:

Three Banners that read Black Lives Matter hung on front of the Center for Disability Rights

Three banners hung on front of our State St location in Rochester NY.