Run everybody - it's the "FDWR"
Dateline: February 25, 1956; Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Wisconsin Rapids,
Wisconsin, One Nation, Under God, With Liberty and Justice for All
"Rout Teen-Age Mob With Fire Hose
Youth Ignore Police Order To Disperse
Rumors of a threatened clash of teen-age gangs following the Stevens Point-Wisconsin
Rapids basketball game here Friday night failed to materialize as a throng of some 350
young persons was quickly dispersed with a short but effective burst from a fire hose.
The action occurred at 11 p.m. in the 100 block of 2nd St. N. where the large group of
teen-agers milled about, most of them seemingly curiosity seekers waiting for something
As it turned out, something did happen-namely, that after being given a warning by Police
Chief R. J. Exner to disperse, all had their spirits dampened with a quick spray of water.
Apparently, in view of the 15 degree weather, this was enough to convince the group that
whatever disturbance, if any, was supposed to develop was not worth waiting for.
For several days prior to Friday night's game, rumors were widespread that there would
be a showdown of several alleged gangs of teen-age youth from Wisconsin Rapids,
Stevens Point and Wausau.
Investigations by the police departments in those cities have been underway for some
time, but thus far few definite facts relating to some of the purported activities of the gangs
and their membership requirements have been uncovered.
Chief Exner issued a statement this morning commending The Tribune for its
cooperation in not publishing the many rumors which have circulated regarding the
'I'd like to commend The Tribune for not printing any of these rumors. We of the
police force greatly appreciate such cooperation. It has helped our work
considerably. By printing anything regarding these rumors, it would only have
aroused the feelings of curiosity seekers and rumor-mongers. This would have
greatly hampered our operations,' the police chief asserted.
District Attorney John M. Potter said today that 'somewhat nebulous reports' of the
existence of such gangs reached his office last fall.
'We have kept in touch with the situation since that time,' he declared, 'and in recent
weeks the investigation has been intensified, primarily by the Wisconsin Rapids
police department, in cooperation with Stevens Point authorities. The investigation
is continuing.' Potter, expressed the view that rumor has magnified the gang's
activities far beyond their real importance. However, he did not minimize the
necessity for alertness on the part of law enforcement officers.
He said that youths suspected of membership in or association with the 'Hipsters'
are being kept under surveillance. 'Thus far,' the district attorney added, 'we have
had no actual information of serious violations of the law which could be definitely
traced to the group.' "
Although rumors seem to have made the gangs' activities more lurid than has actually
been established, Chief Exner prepared city police officers for any possible trouble.
All police officers on the force were called out for duty and each was given a specific
assignment as to what to do in case of truble.
Within an hour after the game a large group of teen-age youths had congregated near
an East Side restaurant. Exner, fearing the situation might get out of hand, conferred
with fire Chief Cloyd Vallin. A fire engine was run out and drove past the crowd twice.
On the third run, Exner, amid cries of 'speech, speech' from the mob, said over a
public address system in one of the police patrol cars: 'Boys and girls, you've had
your fun and now the fun is over. I'll give you five minutes to disperse or you'll get a
cold bath.' When the youths refused to leave, firemen went into action and one 7-1/2
gallon burst sent the crowd running in all directions to escape the chilly spray.
Exner said there was no violence during the evening. One 17 year-old youth who
failed to follow a police officer's instructions after several warnings was locked up for a
few hours at the city jail to 'think things over,' said Exner.
Two other boys were ordered to report to police headquarters this morning, where
they were given a stern lecture and released.
The police chief said that most of the mob was composed of local high school
students, apparently just curiosity seekers. He reported, however, that there were
many youths from out of town. A group from Wausau calling themselves the 'Road
Kings' reportedly was represented. Another gang, allegedly with headquarters in or
near Plover, but with some semblance of an organization here called the 'Hepsters' or
'Hipsters', also had members in Friday night's gatheing. Exner said that police here
have questioned several young people in recent weeks but nothing has been proved
concerning illict activities of any gang. 'We know that the gangs exist, but thus far we
have no basis for considering many of the rumors true,' he said.