Johnson calls for 'ceasefire' amid more fallout from Daniel Prude death

Sep 10, 2020

Rochester Police Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo and Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary will not serve on the city-county Commission on Racial and Structural Equity, Commission Co-chair Bill Johnson said Wednesday.

Johnson also called for a "ceasefire" between public officials, police and those protesting the death of Daniel Prude after he was restrained by police in March. The news of Prude's death was made public last week. 

Mayor Lovely Warren rescinded the appointments of Mazzeo and Singletary on Friday, Johnson said, adding that she did so at the request of the commission’s co-chairs. They requested that Mazzeo and Singletary be replaced “due to their close involvement with any investigations” into Prude's death, a statement from the co-chairs read. 

Singletary resigned from the Rochester Police Department on Tuesday, though he’ll remain on the job through the end of the month.

The RASE Commission was established by Warren and County Executive Adam Bello to examine structural and systemic racism in Monroe County and Rochester and recommend ways to address them. One of the commission’s charges is to examine local policing policies.

Johnson said he is looking to immediately fill the two seats on the 21-member board.

Members of the commission were sworn in on Aug. 10, six days after Warren claims she first saw body camera footage of Rochester police restraining Prude, who was naked, unarmed, and in distress when he was arrested on March 23.

News of Prude’s death has sparked large daily protests.

The departure of Singletary and Mazzeo from the commission leaves the board with just two representatives of law enforcement and none from the city, although some critics have questioned why any police presence is necessary. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter and the county’s director of public safety, Richard Tantalo, remain on the board.

Johnson said he remains confident in the future of the commission, which is set to release its final recommendations in February. 

He implored protest organizers and elected officials to proclaim a “ceasefire.”

"I believe right now is the time to cool down the passions," Johnson said. "I’m not telling people to forgo their hard-felt passionate beliefs. I’m saying you’ve been heard. Let's bring you together." 

He also encouraged them to begin negotiating.

“Not all thousands of them can sit around a table, but they need to understand the whole process of negotiation. You never get everything you want, I get something and you get something,” Johnson said. "We need to decide what it is that is most important.”

Includes reporting by WXXI reporter James Brown.