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Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019: Five arrests outside Rochester stadium after game

   Leading off today: Nearly 50 Rochester police officers responded to East High to break up fights involving 200 or more people following Friday's football game between the Eagles and Irondequoit.

   Police made five arrests, including three juveniles, and reported two officers injured. A 16-year-old was jumped and suffered a broken nose.

   Police responding after reports of fighting at about 8:30 p.m. were pelted with bottles and rocks.

   "We had some uses of force, unfortunately," said Rochester Police Capt. Naser Zenelovic, who estimated that authorities could have arrested close to 100 people.

   "In situations like this, we're trained to be very tolerant and just get people to leave," he added. "We don't have enough officers to arrest our way out of numerous fights. We just want order."

   Officers used pepper balls and pepper spray to disperse the crowd and closed nearby roads.

   "I was here earlier in the game because I love high school football just like everybody else." Zenelovic said. "The fights just started to erupt. ... This is not what we want to do. It's very disappointing."

   East Superintendent Shaun Nelms issued a statement noting that the fighting began on an adjacent street and not inside the stadium. "We have since learned that a community issue was brought to the East campus," he said.

   Rochester City School District spokesman Carlos Garcia said all of those arrested are believed to be students and that discipline will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

   "We're trying to get to the nexus of the problem," Garcia said, "because if we don't resolve the problem it doesn't matter how many we suspend."

   Observation No. 1: The latest violence at or near a high school contest came nearly a year to the day after East's football game vs. Rochester Wilson at Marina Auto Stadium was suspended due to a series of fights in the stands. Three people were arrested.

   Following that incident, Mayor Lovely Warren ordered the police department to work directly with the school district to plan security measures for "major sporting and other school events."

   Why that wasn't already standard operating procedure is a good question.


   As for last night's fracas, the fact that the trouble started outside the stadium does not mean it cannot be reasonably linked to the game. As such, the question has to be asked as to whether the school district and the police department were communicating ahead of time. It's not Monday-morning quarterbacking to suggest that a sizeable police presence should be a no-brainer in the vicinity of a night game involving a school with a history of attracting miscreants to its events.

   The police and the school district need to do a thorough post-mortem Monday morning and make changes.

   First and foremost, they have to recognize the obvious: Night games in any sport are a bad idea for city schools, which played basketball games in empty gyms in the mid-1980s after that round of fan violence.

   Secondly, but no less important, the Mayor needs to get on TV and social media and deliver a clear message that attacks on police officers are unacceptable and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

   Observation No. 2: This is the first year that Section 5 is using Federation-style scheduling in football. It's meant that traditional leagues (and in some cases rivalries) have been disbanded and teams in Greater Rochester now play schedules based on playoff classifications. It's meant blending city schools with their suburban counterparts in Classes AA and A.

   You won't get suburban superintendents to say it for public consumption, but you just know some of them are now football site

wondering what they've gotten themselves into. If Federation scheduling goes belly-up after one season, last night will be why.

   And then there's this: Buffalo McKinley's scheduled football game against Kenmore West was moved from Friday to Saturday after reports of online chatter that suggested the possibility of violence.

   How the decision to move the game came about seems to be a mystery, The Buffalo News reported.

   A Ken-Ton spokes- person said AD Brett Banker talked to Ryan Shepard, interim AD for Buffalo Public Schools, but Anibal Soler, Buffalo's associate superintendent, termed it "a one-sided cancellation."

   Said Elena Cala, the Buffalo schools spokes- woman: "We're eager to hear from the Ken West athletic director or principal as to why they canceled the game. We understand student safety and we value the safety of our students, coaching staff and fans but we are awaiting to see some evidence of a threat beyond social media."

   Cala said Buffalo district officials had seen no evidence of a threat requiring a postponement.

   "It was not mutually agreed upon," Cala said.

   Dept. of irony: Assuming for a moment that Kenmore West did act unilaterally to postpone the game, you would think that Buffalo officials might tactfully sweep any frustration or displeasure aside. We are, after all, talking about a potential safety issue that didn't leave enough time for a thorough investigation that could have determined it was a false alarm.

   On the list of people with a right to gripe, however, Buffalo administrator Soler checks in at about No. 973 on the list.

   Why, you might ask?

   Well, it seems Soler's previous employer was the Rochester City School District, where he worked for 16 years in a variety of roles. He left unexpectedly in January 2016.

   Would you like to know what his assignment was at that time?

   Yup, he was a principal ... at East High.

   Soccer highlights: Shane McMillan registered a hat trick in the span of 28 minutes as the Penfield boys blanked Webster Schroeder 4-0.

   Sophomore Gabby Gambino scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation and the winner in overtime for Lancaster St. Mary's in a 3-2 win over Nardin Academy.

   In the 84th minute, Shae O'Rourke race up midfield and fed Gambino, who converted as St. Mary's improved to 4-0.

   O'Rourke, who scoredd the winners' first goal, and Gambino have combined for 14 goals this season.

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