In September CDR condemned the murder of Daniel Prude because he 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.
On February 23, 2021 the New York Grand Jury voted not to indict police officers in the killing of Daniel Prude. The Rochester Police Department has had two public incidents over the past year where Black disabled people, who were in the middle of a mental health crisis were brutalized and one was killed. Daniel Prude’s killing was videotaped through police bodycam. The Attorney General (AG) Letitia James revealed in her statement on her report to the Grand Jury “We concluded that there was sufficient evidence surrounding Mr. Prude’s death to warrant presenting the case to a grand jury, and we presented the most comprehensive case possible.”
Why then was there no indictment in this horrific killing of a Black disabled man? AG James also stated, “The current laws on deadly force have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him.” The laws in this country make it almost impossible to indict any member of law enforcement for use of force, choke holds, sexual assault, physical assault, use of chemical or physical restraints and killing people.
CDR does not support the use of law enforcement when disabled people are in crisis especially in a mental health crisis. Evidence based research has proven that when people are in mental health crisis what they need is community-based services, love, care and dignity. Safety for Black people and in particular Black disabled people in this country does not equate relying on law enforcement. There should never be a time when police are called for “safety” of disabled bodies and especially Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) who are disabled. #BlackDisabledLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter
It is time for this country to be serious about the reform that is needed to end the killing of Black people. There are a number of federal laws that are being considered in the coming weeks that are supposed to address these challenges. Unfortunately, these bills are not the solutions that thousands of protesters around the country fought for in 2020. CDR has opposed the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 for not being strong enough in these reforms. There must be a full overhaul of the system as AG James has called for in her statement. She also offered some recommendations to RPD to accomplish this reform. In the City of Rochester there is work being done to create some of these changes needed to end the harm and killing of people by law enforcement.
CDR commits to being a part of the solution through our work to end all state harm and killing of disabled people. We will continue our work with the Rochester community and protect disabled people. We will join Mayor Lovely Warren in her work to reform the RPD. We work diligently to create policy and laws at a state and national level that will reform the power to hold members of law enforcement accountable for their actions. This reform should include providing authorities like AG James the ability to charge and convict officers of the law for their harmful and unlawful actions.
The family of Daniel Prude are in mourning for the loss of his precious life and now they mourn because the people who killed him will not be held accountable for their actions. CDR sends our condolences to the Prude family at this time. No family should have to live through such injustices.
It is imperative that our elected officials learn from the public – Rochester residents please go here to tell Mayor Warren about your thoughts for RPD reform: https://www.cityofrochester.gov/executiveorder203/
For more information on this work contact Dara Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org