( Rochester NY) Following a peaceful rally and march on Saturday, a group of Black Lives Matter activists and supporters blocked the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Woodbury Boulevard. The protest was to bring attention to police violence in black communities, structural racism in Rochester, the fight against white supremacy, and the need for allies to uplift black lives. It also marked two years since Rochester Police arrested 74 people during a Black Lives Matter rally in the East End.
Rochester police responded to the intersection, blocked by a ring of protesters with linked arms, and issued an order to disperse. When it wasn’t heeded, police arrested the 16 protesters, one by one, and took them from the intersection.
The Black Lives Matter rally started a little after 4 p.m. in Washington Square Park, with around 150 people listening to speakers and performers and making call-and-response chants. The rally, which had been organized through the Black Lives Matter ROC Facebook page, then turned into a march down Broad Street to the intersection with South Union Street, where protesters staged a die-in and made chalk outlines representing black victims of police shootings and brutality — Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and India Cummings among them.
The march wound its way to the intersection of Howell Street and Chestnut Street, pausing again. The rally and march had not asked for a permit from the city in order to cause a disruption, but along the way police redirected traffic away from the route and a Monroe County Sheriff’s helicopter circled above.
When the march reached the Clinton and Woodbury intersection, it was clear that the group intended to block the intersection as long as possible in an act of civil disobedience. By about 7 p.m., when police ordered the group to disperse, around 40 people were still in the area, with the circle of protesters willing to be arrested in the middle and others holding signs and chanting on the nearby street corners.
More than 50 police officers, wearing riot helmets with visors, moved in from both sides along Clinton, circling the group of 16 sitting people and arrested them one by one over the course of about an hour.
Black Lives Matter ROC organizers declined to comment to media. And the Rochester Police Department has not yet responded to request for comment