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May 30—A Celebration and a Cause

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rochester policeA number of residents gathered at Lunsford Park on Saturday May 30 to say farewell to Cheryl and Joe Arena who, after 27 years of Corn Hill living, were about to depart for a new life in Florida.

Wearing masks while commiserating about our mutual bad hair days with salons still closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we struggled to maintain a reasonable facsimile of social distancing. Only several days after setting a high temperature for the date of 90+ degrees, the day was chilly but spirits were warm with celebration. There was a brief program as tribute was paid to our friends who will be sorely missed. Greenwood Street photographer Bruce Cook used every bit of patience and charm he could muster to get us all into a panoramic photograph as a memento of the day. Then we all returned home in a light-hearted frame of mind.

The mood changed quickly when we turned on our television sets to discover that, as we were celebrating the Arenas, on the far side of Corn Hill, in front of the Justice Building, a demonstration had been taking place to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis policemen several days earlier. In the midst of this peaceful and purposeful gathering, a small dissident group spoiled the rally and began setting fire to police cars. Over the next couple of days, the looting of stores occurred in several areas of the city. The lawlessness was short-lived, order was restored and peaceful protests continued under the rubric Black Lives Still Matter.

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After that Saturday night disturbance when several streets were closed in the area, there was only one slight disruption to our neighborhood. During a protest in front of the Monroe County Office Building on June 5, South Plymouth Avenue was closed to traffic north of Troup Street. A long line of cars belonging to State Troopers and Rochester Police lined the east side of Exchange near the Ford Street Bridge, presumably standing by in case trouble developed downtown. It didn’t.