A fun family event went south when a big brawl broke out, and people scrambled to run away from the scene.
Today, we spoke with attendees who said the big Fourth of July event should not have been overshadowed by the incident.
“I was devastated when I first found out about it,” said Rockford Fourth of July Committee member, Ted O’Donnell.
Our cameras caught part of the fight from a nearby garage, even the moment firecrackers were thrown at police.
O’Donnell says the disturbance put those attending the event in harm’s way.
“To be perfectly frank, it’s an ignorance level of the people that started it,” said O’Donnell. “They have no empathy for the other human person next to them.”
One resident, watching nearby, agreed that it had no place at the patriotic celebration.
She said it’s unfair that incidents like these can make people afraid to come out and enjoy themselves downtown.
“It makes me really sad, because they’ve done so much work downtown to make Rockford such a nice place,” said Denise Darnell, who also attended the parade. “And, they’re building and opening new stores, and they put so much work into it, and people just have to come and ruin it, and make people afraid to come down and see the fireworks.”
But another resident we spoke with said it shouldn’t stop people from coming out.
“Guess what? I had a fantastic time,” said Rockford resident Frankie Fabre. “Do negative things happen out there? Of course. But does it stop? No. Why? Because we’re not going to allow the negative to stop the reason why we wanted to do it in the first place.”
Frankie Fabre says there’s no place for anyone wanting to stir the pot at community events.
“Leave that at the house, keep it away from everyone else,” said Fabre. “If you want to do something that’s negative, do it away from other people that won’t be affected by it.”
He said sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle, but it would help if troublemakers just stayed away.
“I guess the only thing that we can do is, just ask the citizens of Rockford, is that if you feel you just want to start a battle, stay home,” said O’Donnell. “This isn’t for you.”
The Rockford Fourth of July Committee says they always take extra precautions for the safety of its attendees, and hope this doesn’t deter anyone from coming back for the event next year.