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Former gang member recalls '64 riots

By Patrice Walsh

Many who took part in the Rochester Riots 50 years ago were just teenagers, like Darryl Porter, who was a gang member at the time.

The arrest of Porters friend has been considered the spark that set off three days of riots.

Porter, who was a member of "The Matadors," was invited to the street dance on Joseph Avenue by a friend of his brothers who was a member of the "Upsetters" Gang.

"I was there at the dance when it broke out. It was a street dance. It's like a big come out and have a good time," says Porter.

But Porter says his friend, Randy Manigault, had too much fun and too much to drink. Thats when police were called.

Porter says he and his friends wanted to take Manigault home but police wanted to arrest him.

"They were determined they were going to take him to jail," says Porter.

Thats when he says the fights began.

"Because of the tussle, they called in more police and the whole thing got blown out of proportion," says Porter.

He doesnt call it a riot but rather a rebellion.

"We were fighting the police. Thats why they called in more reinforcements," says Porter. "It was fists, it was bottles, it was bricks, it was blackjacks, you just reacted. I got arrested several times but I got away. I look back at it a hundred times. It was an issue of injustice of all kinds. Housing, education, jobs."

He says the riots werent pretty but they were necessary.

"We were the first clean sweep we went through and cleaned up the neighborhoods," says Porter. "It needed to happen to make change happen. The powers to be at that time were only concerned about half of the city and the part that was doing well."

Porter worries that without changes, what happened in 1964 could happen again.

"Things are tense," says Porter. Education was a problem back then but today it's worse. Enough hasnt changed; it will change when people start dreaming again."


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Washington Times