Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards and Police Chief James M. Sheppard on Monday issued a joint statement regarding local media coverage of the handling of a group of protesters, saying officers were unfairly criticized and accused.
“The Rochester Police Department does an excellent job protecting the rights of protesters who lawfully assemble and act reasonably and peacefully,” according to the release. “Our officers are willing and able to accommodate the exercise of First Amendment rights, as well as to protect the rights of citizens to go about their lives in the city.”
On Thursday, protesters originally wanted to block the streets during rush hour and their application was denied. They eventually applied for a reasonable permit and it was granted. The police provided for their safety and right to march as permitted, while also providing for the safety and rights of others who were impacted along the march route.
The protesters largely stuck to the terms of the permit and the only detention was of an individual who attempted to deface City Hall. No one interfered with their speech, either oral or written.
They said that contrasts with a July 21 event when the group marched without a permit, blocked the streets and refused to respect the rights of others or the direction of the police.
“It is often challenging to reach the correct balance between the sometimes conflicting interests of our citizens, but we fully support the actions of our officers on both dates,” the statement reads.