Several Black Lives Matter Protesters Arrested in Rochester Appear in Court

Several Black Lives Matter Protesters Arrested in Rochester Appear in Court


By Wendy Mills

A number of people arrested earlier this month during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Rochester appeared in court Tuesday.

Some of those charged, who have no prior criminal record, heard what’s called a misdemeanor negotiation or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. In other words, it’s the court’s way of saying it’s giving some of those arrested at the rally the benefit of the doubt.

For some of the protesters charged, if they accepted the ACD, their cases are adjourned. If they stay out of trouble the next six months, the charges will be dropped.

Defense attorney Van White says an ACD is not a conviction for anything or a plea. A few people outside of court said they accepted the motion.

Police arrested more than 70 people following the nine-hour long Black Lives Matter rally on East Avenue earlier this month. Video of police arresting Sapphire Williams went viral. The 22-year-old was charged with disorderly conduct. She did not accept the dismissal motion in court Tuesday.

“If I know and understand my rights as a U.S. citizen as I learned them to be, it was absolutely unjust and wrong,” said Williams.

“You see in the video, it is really quite disturbing to think that someone could be going about their business and utilizing their first amendment right and then because of what they said someone says I do not like that and I am going to arrest them and that is apparently what happened,” said Van White, Williams’ attorney. “Justice delayed is justice denied. She is entitled to walk into court Aug. 3 and have this case dismissed immediately.”

Both Rochester police chief Mike Cimminelli and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren have said that officers do what they can to ensure a balance of public safety while protecting protesters and everyone’s constitutional rights.