The Blood Flows in Rochester
Rochester city councilman Adam McFadden has to be wondering why so many people are still so puzzled at the frequent black mob violence in Rochester.
After all, McFadden explained it all to us just two years ago.
"I think what you saw at the beach is what we've been seeing in many of our neighborhoods for two decades," (black) Councilman McFadden told WHAM TV. "It's just that you had a lot of people there who are not used to that culture and got to witness it personally."
He was talking about how a mob of 200 black people were fighting and destroying property at a local beach during a Memorial Day Rib Festival. Thirteen black people were arrested. At least one police officer was hurt. A lot of it was caught on video.
The local ABC affiliate reeled off the names of other parts of town where mob violence was now a regular feature of life in Rochester, including the popular downtown Liberty Pole.
Per usual, no one in the media said everyone involved in the mayhem was black. Neither did one reporter ask McFadden: What do you mean by the term "that culture?" And why do you say that large-scale mob violence is a part of it?
The usually loquacious McFadden did not reply to calls and emails.
Two years later, racial violence is back in Rochester. Or, as most locals say, it never really went away.
The latest "large fight" happened in the last week of September. Councilman McFadden was downtown when "he intervened after encountering a large crowd of kids fighting one another and running away from police," said the Democrat and Chronicle. "The Liberty Pole is the site of regular fights and disorder, particularly before and after school is in session."
This fight was a bit different. Someone fired a gun. The police report described the chief suspect as a "male black, wearing a blue hoodie with a turquoise hood."
The newspaper repeated the description except it left out one detail: The suspect was black. The school district described the violence as "inappropriate behavior." The local NBC station said it was "chaos."
But a police surveillance video backs up what the residents are saying in interviews and on the web sites: Everyone involved is black.
"Wary people avoid the Liberty Pole during the school year," said Rochester resident Charlie Yanaitis. "There's been problems for years at the Liberty Pole during the school year as it's the main transfer point for school kids in downtown Rochester. It's mostly black on black violence there."
The list of places that people should avoid if they wish to avoid black mob violence in Rochester is long and getting longer.
The annual Lilac Festival the week before Memorial Day is also the site of regular black mob violence. By the time it was over this year, 200 people were arrested and four people were stabbed. A man with a shotgun escaped and two police officers were hurt.
Two months prior to the festival, the police chief sent potential criminals a letter, saying he was watching them and they'd better start behaving.
"We care about you as individuals, as well as all citizens in the City of Rochester, who deserve to live freely without the threat of gun violence," said Chief James Sheppard. "This is our new way of doing business and I thought it was important to let you know. Please go tell your friends."
He did say "please." But that did not matter much: Six weeks later, prior to the festival, local media were reporting "increased violence in the city over the past 10 days."
At first city officials downplayed the mayhem at the Lilac Festival, saying there was no violence inside the fair itself. That fiction did not last long as one person after another came forward to tell their story in the comments section of the Democrat and Chronicle.
Rob Sands was just one of several to contradict official attempts to downplay the violence: "The Monroe County parks director said no fights occurred within the festival site itself. That is a straight up lie."
Local reporters do not -- or will not -- report what many readers know:
"Let's face it, this is a racial problem," said Ann Marie Cummings in the comments section of the Democrat and Chronicle. "Whether it is the Puerto Rican fest, last year at the rib fest, or problems at sea breeze with gangs. It's obvious these street thugs pick arenas... large amount of people attending."
Joe Baxton took to the comments to report another episode of black mob violence earlier that day:
"About a half hour ago, I was on my way home from lunch. I was stopped at a light in front of the county jail where the prisoner release door is. And there erupted a huge fight between 50 black (people).
They ran across the street, stopped traffic dead and continued to fight on the side walk across from the jail. I betting this is a continuation of the nonsense which occurred at the Lilac Festival.
The ones arrested must have been released and this group of black (people) was waiting for them to continue the fight. What on earth is going on in my city? I have never seen anything like this in my entire life."
Sometimes black mobs in Rochester like some variety. So in September, 400 to 500 black people from Rochester made their way to a mall in neighboring Irondequoit. Soon after, police closed down a movie theater after they started fighting inside and outside a showing of the movie Insidious, Chapter 2.
"I saw police officers chasing kids, as we were pulling out of the parking lot to leave we saw police officer knock kids to the ground and one police officer was batoning kids," said Alton Johnson to Rochester YNN.
Lt. Jonna Izzo explained it to News 8: "They have pent up energy from being scared in the movie theater and they come out and they don't know what to do with that energy."
Some residents said it was strange that anyone could blame a large-scale act of violence and mayhem on a movie. Other said it had nothing to with the movie: that mall and others in Irondequoit have been plagued by black mob violence for years:
"So it's not the first time and won't be the last," said David Sevor at the web site for WHAM TV news. "It's sad these young teenagers don't know how to behave out in public."
Mike Alpaha was more explicit:
It's been a problem that has been escalating for a long time. White people are the real problem! You're all too scared to speak up and talk about the real problem!
These young black kids are out of control and have no discipline in the home. They have no respect for anyone (especially white people). But everyone is scared of being called a racist for telling it how it is.
I'm not a racist, but I can say that the inner city black youth are out of control and only getting worse!
Four police departments from neighboring jurisdictions assisted. City officials called the bus company, which responded with extra buses to return the rioters to Rochester. No one was arrested.
Also in September, a group of more than 20 black people on bicycles surrounded a woman and her teenage son and stole their phone. One witness to the crime told WHAM that was not the first time.
Earlier in the week, her little sister was robbed at the bus station less than one block away from Friday's reported robbery. Sadiya Curtis said some men on bicycles rolled by on a bike and snatched her phone.
Taleeb Starkes is the author of the Uncivil War: Confronting the subculture within the African American community. "The point is not that Rochester is any better or any worse when compared with Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Washington, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Greensboro, Newark, Peoria," Starkes said. "But that what is happening in Rochester is happening in many places around the country. And few know about it."
But it is more photographed.
Local reporter Tim Louis Macaluso of the Roc City News was among the first to notice that local shutterbugs are very, very, active when large groups of black people start creating mayhem.
They seem to document a Clockwork Orange-like breakdown in civility.
Rochester is known for many things -- Kodak, lilacs, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass, for starters.
But go to YouTube.com and type in a search for Rochester, NY, and you'll see that Rochester is popular with viewers for something else: teen fights.
We saved you the trouble. A collection, here.