by Greg Livadas
Democrat and Chronicle

Community activist Joy Powell on Monday maintained that recent assault and burglary cahrges against her were fabricated because she threatened to take concerns about Rochester police to the department’s Internal Affairs unit.

She vows to follow through with her complaint and contact federal officials after she said Rochester police “terrorized” her while she was being treated at Rochester General Hospital. She said she was being treated for injuries she said occurred during an assault days before she was arrested and accused of assaulting another woman.

“I am a victim they turned into a suspect,” Powell said outside the Hall of Justice Monday afternoon, accompanied by several supporters. “If we don’t stand for something, we’d go for anything.”

Court documents with statements from Rochester police charge Powell and a group of people with forcing their way into a house on Copeland Street last month, using a bat to assault a woman described as Powell’s cousin. Powell insists that she’s not a blood relative of the woman, but said that she has known the woman for years and financially supported the woman’s children.

Powell said she turned herself in to police at their request, but not because she’s guilty.

Powell said she was the one who was assaulted and robbed by a group of people at the Copeland Street home days before the other attack. She said she went there to see a young girl she believes could be the child of her deceased son.

She said she filed a complaint with police after she was attacked, but several of her allegations were not included in the police report. After she learned no one would be arrested, Powell said, she told the investigating officers she intented to file an internal complaint with the department.

In a written statement, Powell contends that community organizations or activists “who go to the center of the real underlying issues automatically become a threat. I have confronted abuses of power of people in high places.”

Powell, who served almost three years in state prison on a 1992 drug charge, is known for using a bullhorn to lead impromptu rallies and protests on city streets.

Police Department spokeswoman Officer Deidre Taccone said Powell’s reputation played no role in her arrest. She said the case was investigated the same way any other investigation would be handled.

“She is always entitled to go to Internal Affairs if she has a complaint she wants to file,” Taccone said.

Meanwhile, Powell’s case is expected to be presented to a grand jury.