Rochester mayor calls for calm as protests against Daniel Prude's death grow more contentious

Protesters converged on Rochester's Public Safety Building Sunday night as demonstrations against the death of Daniel Prude continued for the fifth day.

The demonstrations came after Mayor Lovely Warren and the city's police chief La'Ron Singletary called for calm following contentious protests on Saturday.

Rochester Police said 1,000 people had gathered Sunday evening.

"Let’s work together to keep everyone safe!" the department

.

In a new tack, police on Sunday night were allowing protesters to march up to the Public Safety Building (PSB), home to the Rochester Police Department, after previously barricading demonstrators about a quarter mile up the road, where clashes ensued between protesters and police.

MORE: New York forms grand jury to investigate Daniel Prude's death at hands of Rochester police

Singletary said earlier Sunday that there was credible information that outside agitators want to destroy the PSB, but country legislator Rachel Barnhart, who was injured while attending Saturday night's protests, told ABC News she thought Saturday's protests only became violent after demonstrators encountered police at the barricade and suggested that allowing protesters to march to the PSB would curtail the violence.

On Sunday evening a group of church elders boarded buses near City Hall to travel to the PSB in order to act as a buffer between protesters and the police in a move that city officials hoped would keep the protests peaceful.

Warren's pleas for peaceful demonstrations came after police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd of over 1,200 people Saturday night. She stood by Singletary and the police department and commended them for their restraint during the last couple nights of protest, which authorities said included agitators from out of state.

PHOTO: Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020. (Rochester Police Dept.)

PHOTO: Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020. (Rochester Police Dept.)

PHOTO: Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020. (Rochester Police Dept.)

"People from outside of the city like Alaska and Massachusetts have been arrested," Singletary said at the news conference.

The protests stem from last week's release of body camera footage showing the March 23 incident involving Rochester police officers and Prude, 41. Prude's brother Joe called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.

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In the video, which was first reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, officers approach Prude, who is naked, and Prude initially complies with the officers' orders. Prude is subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompts officers to place a spit bag over his head.

MORE: Family calls for Rochester police to be charged after Black man dies during mental health emergency while in custody

The officers are seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head, and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died in the hospital a week later.

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Seven Rochester officers have been suspended with pay as New York State Attorney General Letitia James's office investigates the incident, which is part of New York state's protocol anytime someone dies in police custody. On Saturday, James announced she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

PHOTO: Protesters march in Rochester, New York, Sept. 5, 2020, on the fourth night of protest following the release of video showing the death of Daniel Prude. (Maranie R. Staab/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOTO: Protesters march in Rochester, New York, Sept. 5, 2020, on the fourth night of protest following the release of video showing the death of Daniel Prude. (Maranie R. Staab/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOTO: Protesters march in Rochester, New York, Sept. 5, 2020, on the fourth night of protest following the release of video showing the death of Daniel Prude. (Maranie R. Staab/AFP via Getty Images)

Protests that have taken place in the city since the news broke have become contentious between those involved and the police. Officers say they've been struck by bottles and rocks and have had to use pepper spray, tear gas and other weapons to disperse crowds during the demonstrations, including the one on Saturday night.

Three officers were treated for injuries related to the fireworks Saturday and nine people were arrested after some in the crowd appeared to set off fireworks, according to the authorities.

MORE: Amid calls for police reform, better training needed to handle mental health emergencies: Experts

At the same time, Warren acknowledged that the department and city should have done more to protect Prude.

"We have to own the fact that in that moment, we did not do that," she said.

The mayor revealed that she first saw the body camera footage last month but could not take any direct action because of the investigation by the attorney general. She defended Singletary and his actions thus far in the investigation, saying that he's done everything by the book and has not impeded or covered up the case.

PHOTO: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, left, speaks to the media during a press conference in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 3, 2020, where she announced the suspension of officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude. (Adrian Kraus/AP, FILE)

PHOTO: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, left, speaks to the media during a press conference in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 3, 2020, where she announced the suspension of officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude. (Adrian Kraus/AP, FILE)

PHOTO: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, left, speaks to the media during a press conference in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 3, 2020, where she announced the suspension of officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude. (Adrian Kraus/AP, FILE)

"I wholeheartedly believe RPD Chief Singletary can lead us through this time," she said.

In the meantime, Warren and Singletary said the city is already working to change the way the city responds to mental health emergency calls. The city will double the availability of mental health professionals and the police will review its measures in place for handling such emergencies, according to the mayor and chief.

"Certain calls shouldn’t be handled by police," Singletary said.

ABC News' Trevor Ault and Christopher Donato contributed to this report.

Protests against Daniel Prude's death continue as Rochester mayor calls for calm originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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