Several times this week, large groups of teenagers have gathered on Main Street before school. Fights broke out, with kids running from corner to corner to witness the action.
It was chaos.
This is nothing new, as the city has struggled to keep order on Main Street before and after school. When Midtown Plaza closed, huge crowds of unsupervised youth turned Main St. into their playground as they waited for buses. Some went downtown just to hang out.
On Friday, 13WHAM News recorded what appeared to be the tail end of police regaining order. Police and students were running around. Police found a pellet gun on one student. They pepper sprayed a number of teens.
The video has concerned people, who say the police casually pepper sprayed teens. Some of the teens appeared to be doing absolutely nothing wrong.Pepper spray is a use of force and it’s appropriate to ask questions. It’s very important to note we did not see what happened before this video.
Here’s the perspective of the police: The officers’ primary goal was to get the kids on their way to school before another fight broke out. You can’t have hundreds of students running up and down Main Street when they should be in school. You also can’t have them standing around, away from their bus stops, after they were told to move along. Three kids turns into 10 turns into 50 and then the problem is back.
Officers’ use of pepper spray on students is fairly common in school settings when large groups of students gather to watch fights. It’s a means to disperse crowds. Certainly, some kids who were not part of the melee can get sprayed. But cops will tell you it’s way more dangerous to not break up the crowd than use the pepper spray.
Over the last few years, the school district and police department have downplayed what is happening on Main Street. Meanwhile, officers are placed in a tough position. Tourists, businesses and workers are disgusted. Students who get involved in these melees could be in danger.
I thought the bus company and school district mostly solved the problem of Main Street fights with restrictions on bus passes and more direct routes. It appears the only thing that will get this under control is the new bus terminal that’s coming in 2015. I don’t think an enclosed facility with security will be as problematic, because kids won’t be as free to run around causing problems. Midtown Plaza did not tolerate misbehavior and did not experience regular fights.
What did you think of the video and how police handled the situation?
Links of the Day:
– Hickey Freeman’s CEO says the bankruptcy plan will save jobs, as long as Authentic Brands is the winning bidder.
– North American Brewery’s CEO says the purchase of the company will be a good thing. NAB owns the Genesee brand.
– “A waterfront stadium is a bad idea on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin,” writes a Buffalo News columnist.
– The Saudis are building a huge mosque. Preservationists are worried historic sites could be destroyed in the process.