Brawls mar Juneteenth celebration of African-American culture
Robert A. Baker:
Syracuse's Juneteenth celebration was shut down by police three hours early Saturday night after fights broke out among youths.
As fights erupted at the Clinton Square festival, hundreds of youths surged through the square and surrounding streets. Deputy Police Chief Frank Fowler made the decision to close the event at 8:10 p.m.
Two people were stabbed, one at the edge of the square and another near East Washington and South Warren streets, Fowler said. The wounds were not life threatening, Fowler said.
The festival marks June 19, 1865, the day the last American slaves heard news they were free. Over the years, the festival and parade have become a celebration of African-American culture.
Police arrested 14 people, including one juvenile, Fowler said. A suspect in one of the stabbings was among those arrested, Fowler said. There was no gunfire, the deputy chief said.
Names of the injured and arrested were not immediately available. The investigation is continuing, Fowler said.
The band After FX was onstage playing when mayhem began in the crowd.
"They had no choice but to shut it down for the safety of others who came to enjoy Juneteenth," Donald Ransom, keyboardist in the band, said.
Band members said they could see youths running and jumping while they were playing. One called it a stampede.
The headlining band, the Donna Alford JaSSBand, never took the stage Saturday night.
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