“Close To Home”: Binghamton Protesters Stand With Rochester

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Hundreds of protesters marched through Binghamton’s downtown on Saturday night. They stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Rochester.

Hundreds of protesters marched down Main Street to Binghamton’s police department on Saturday in solidarity with protesters in Rochester. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

Protests there began after police body-cam footage of Rochester Police restraining Daniel Prude, a Black man from Chicago, was released earlier this month. According to an autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, Prude died “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” in March, a week after police arrested him.

Southern Tier activists dubbed the protest the “Upstate Uprising”.

“Out of your house, into the streets”

Protesters weaved through Binghamton’s West Side, calling to those watching from their porches to get out of their homes and “into the streets”. The crowd cheered each time new people joined them, and made their way down to the city’s police station—the same place they stood during protests earlier this summer in response to the death of George Floyd.

Numerous protests were held this summer in support of Black Lives Matter and defunding the police.

Ashley Montalvo is one of the organizers of Saturday’s march. She was part of a group from Binghamton that attended the protests in Rochester.

She says communities—especially those nearby—need to stick together.

“When Rochester put out a call, a distress call, our neighboring cities came and we answered that call,” Montalvo said.

According to police reports, Prude fell unconscious and later stopped breathing after officers restrained him. One officer placed a knee on his back—not dissimilar to the circumstances under which George Floyd died in May—and a white hood known as a “spit sock” over his head.

Although Prude died in March, body cam footage of that night surfaced for the first time in September. Protesters in Rochester now charge police and city officials with trying to sweep Prude’s death under the rug.

For Montalvo, what happened in Rochester hits close to home. She said she believes what happened there could transpire in Binghamton any day.

“That murder was kept a secret from the public for five, six months,” Montalvo said. “We don’t know if it’s happened here and we just don’t know about it yet.”

Sydney Gorgeous, a Black trans woman from Binghamton, speaks to the crowd outside the Bingahmton police station. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

“We’re on the freedom side”

The crowd grew in size as protesters marched to Binghamton’s police station, chanting Prude’s name. As they passed by bars and restaurants, they encouraged people to join the “freedom side” of the parade for change.

Stopping at the police station, speakers brought up a number of issues affecting the Black community, including housing, economic discrimination and the treatment of LGBTQ folks.

Among the speakers was Sydney Gorgeous. She is a Black trans woman and says Black Lives Matter must also include members of the LGBT community.

“Everything that we’re doing right now, LGBT people started this,” Gorgeous said. “And we are the most disrespected people in the community.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, murders of trans and gender non-conforming people are on the rise.

While police officers lined up along Hawley Street donned riot gear, no violence occurred during the protest.