Insight from Wisconsin state Sen. Van Wanggaard and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The Justice Department announced criminal charges against Adam Green of Dansville, and Dallas Williams-Smothers, of Rochester, both 20, for civil disorder during a Saturday demonstration. Both face up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
James Kennedy, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, said the arrests occurred as 1,500 people gathered in downtown Rochester near police headquarters.
Green was wearing a helmet and carrying a makeshift wooden shield when he and a group of people refused to disperse after police declared an unlawful assembly, Kennedy said. When an officer approached him, Green swung the shield and struck the officer in the head, authorities allege.
Police officers force a line of demonstrators away from the front of the Public Safety Building in Rochester, N.Y., last week. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
The officer sustained a cut nose and Green eventually was arrested after fighting with officers, authorities said.
In a separate incident on the same night, a Rochester police officer saw Williams-Smothers ignite a mortar-style, commercial-grade firework and throw it at a line of officers. The projectile made a loud noise, but no officers were injured.
Williams-Smothers fled on foot and was arrested a short time later. Inside his belt pouch were two similar fireworks, Kennedy said.
"These arrests are not about deterring free speech," he said. "They're about deterring violent and dangerous criminal activity."
Officers have been targeted with rocks, bottles, lit fireworks and other projectiles amid the unrest, authorities said.
Rochester has had nightly protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died a week after a March 23 encounter with police. Officers put a spit hood over a naked Prude — who had been suffering from a mental health episode — and allegedly pressed his head onto the pavement.
His death was ruled a homicide by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint." On Tuesday, Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary and two other senior command staff members resigned. Two other officers voluntarily returned to their prior rank.
In a statement, Singletary said his actions were being mischaracterized.
Mayor Lovely Warren had questioned Singletary's handling of the case, saying she was misled about the circumstances of Prude's encounter with police. Last week, she suspended seven officers involved with pay, pending an investigation.
Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo on Wednesday urged Warren to step down following the resignations. The union represents uniformed police officers.
“There’s a need for change,” Mazzeo said. “I think that when we have a whole command staff walk out the door, something is wrong. I think too many people are involved in this that know the truth, and for some of them that haven't figured out the truth, I hope the others learn soon.”
Warren responded to Mazzeo's remarks in a statement of her own obtained by WROC-TV.
"For 30 years, the problem with policing in Rochester are cops like Mike Mazzeo that watch the video of Daniel Prude's death and see nothing wrong," she said. "Mike Mazzeo and his ilk exist only to protect and serve themselves, and certainly not the people of the City of Rochester."
She also urged Mazzeo to resign.