Rochester, N.Y. — On Friday morning, the Rochester Police Department arrested two juveniles for fighting on Main Street. The fight drew nearly a hundred students to the area around the convention center.
One of the students also had a pellet gun in his bookbag.
Rochester Police say this week, there have been several fights in the mornings and they have amped up patrols to try and control crowds.
On Friday morning, police had to use pepper spray on the students to break up the crowds.
“Depending on the level of threat and if the combatants are continuously fighting and won't stop our use of force matrix tells us we can use pepper spray,” says Sgt. Justin Collins of the Rochester Police Department. “If there is a threat to officers or to others, we can use that.”
Valarie Akinlawon owns Metro Market just a block away from where Friday morning’s fight occurred. She says the fights between city school kids are all too common and she thinks the fights are affecting her business.
“When the kids are all gathered around and they are fighting, I don't get the customers. They don't come in.”
This fight happened right across the Rochester Riverside Convention Center where hundreds of educators across the state were gathered for a conference.
Akinlawon says she’s worried that these fights are tainting Rochester’s image especially for tourists and visitors.
“It doesn't make Rochester look good at all,” she says. “We're trying our best to bring downtown back but we really need to work on the problem of children coming through downtown.”
RPD and the Rochester City School District say they are working together along with the transit authority to try figure out how to prevent these fights.
When asked if the use of pepper spray on the students, especially those walking away from the crowd, was necessary, RPD said:
“Under certain circumstances, RPD officers may use OC spray on groups that are fighting, or being unruly. As a standard practice, we review each use of force, including use of OC spray, by RPD officers on an individual basis, taking into account the totality of circumstances, including what is seen and not seen on the video, to ensure it complies with RPD policies, procedures, and training. We will follow this process to review the use of OC spray shown in the video.