Police in the city of Rochester in upstate New York arrested 74 people during a demonstration of the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday, organized to protest the recent shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Two local journalists were also detained during the protests that began at around 4 p.m.
Police in riot gear began taking demonstrators into custody at roughly 10 p.m. The journalists, Carlet Cleare and Justin Carter, were released a short time later.
Rochester Police Chief Micheal Ciminelli said at a press conference the arrests were made because members of his police department and nearby law enforcement agencies did not have enough resources to answer other emergency calls.
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Protesters told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle they were arrested for blocking the street.
A video posted online shows a line of police officers with riot gear inching toward protesters and chanting “move back” as many demonstrators appeared to be sitting in the middle of a street.
One person described as protest organizer, Ashley Gantt, said the demonstrators “took a seat on the ground because we didn’t want any of our movements to be misinterpreted as violence or trying to get aggressive or resisting arrest.”
“They just started snatching people who refused to move to the side,” another protester, Aiesha Coleman, said.
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Ciminelli said there were approximately 112 officers present during the protests that started with about 300 people who were obstructing traffic. He said a smaller group of people began marching at about 8 p.m. to another area of the city, while “there were repeated requests for them to move.”
“Later on that day it escalated a little bit,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “We did not have to use any pepper spray, we did not use any batons, we did not deploy any weapons or any tasers”
All of the protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct while two also faced charges of resisting arrest, Ciminelli said.
The police chief noted that based on the recent events in Dallas “we did really ramp up our operational plan.”