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