Lost footage of the Rochester Riots

Posted at: 07/25/2014 5:25 PM
By: Janet Lomax

This time, 50 years ago, Rochester was in the midst of a riot. All week, News10NBC has given you an in-depth look at an event that changed the course of the city’s history.  

Someone at City Hall was watching. News10NBC got a call about some old film from the riots in 1964. On Friday, we are sharing some of it with you.

Sometimes history is hard to watch, but you have heard the saying, “If you don’t know your history, you are destined to repeat it.”

The film is some of that lost footage. It shows medics on scene caring for the injured. 

The riots started out as a street dance to raise money for a playground in one 7th Ward neighborhood. It turned into a three day event that shook the city of Rochester to its core.

When police tried to arrest a man for public intoxication, as one person put it, “all hell broke loose” at Joseph Avenue and Nassau Street. Those who were there say people in Rochester’s African American communities were just fed up with discrimination, substandard housing conditions, poor paying jobs or no jobs at all and unequal educational opportunities. 

News10NBC reporters, like Warren Doremus, and photographers, like Dick Sax, were right in the middle of it. So was Darryl Porter. The former special assistant to two mayors and three term Rochester City School Board President was a teenager back then. It was his friend, whose arrest, sparked three days of deadly riots.

Many wondered how it could happen in Rochester in 1964. So many big businesses, like Bausch and Lomb, Kodak and Xerox, were thriving. The unemployment rate was among the lowest in the state.

Tonight, you can tune into our half hour special, "50 Years Later: The Rochester Riots." We will take a look at the impact of the riots then and now. You will also hear what Mayor Lovely Warren has to say about the challenges still facing the city. The special airs at 7:30 p.m. on News10NBC.