It’s one thing to experience Black Girl Magic from afar, but it’s quite another see it up close and personal.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, long a public advocate for New York City, brought her considerable legal presence to Rochester on Sunday.
James, who is leading the probe into the death of Daniel Prude, held a press conference at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church in Rochester on September 20, after meeting with members of Prude’s family and the local civil rights groups Free the People ROC and United Christian Leadership Ministry.
During the media event, James said that going forward her office will announce when it is investigating deaths of unarmed individuals after encounters with law enforcement, noting that police body camera footage of such incidents will be released as soon as possible. “I commit that we will notify the public when we arrive at a decision, to assert our jurisdiction in investigations of police officers involved deaths of unarmed civilians to avoid the situation that occurred here in Rochester,” she said.
The attorney general’s office is considering pursuing a civil rights investigation into the Rochester Police Department’s recent encounters with protesters. Over the past few week, law enforcement has responded aggressively, using tear gas, pepper balls and flash bangs to disperse crowds. A public online portal will be launched in the coming days to collect first hand-accounts from witnesses.
James, a trailblazer who broke down racial and gender barriers by becoming the first African-American woman to be elected to a statewide office, hasn’t shied away from pursuing controversial, high-profile cases.
In her fiery victory speech, she spoke directly of Donald Trump: “He should know that we here in New York — and I, in particular — we are not scared of you…I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”
Since then, she has continued to pursue the state lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which has been accused of misleading the public about the dangers of addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin; she is investigating videoconferencing platform giant Zoom for potential abuses of its data privacy and security practices; she is seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the grounds of corruption; and she has called for reform in the N.Y.P.D. due to the police department’s handling of the George Floyd protests.