Details of fight disputed Family, police clash over brawl in Mount Airy


A family involved in a Mount Airy brawl Friday night that attracted 75 to 100 people has disputed the state police account of the incident.

Police said the brawl, which erupted near the Putt N Fun on Main Street and later spread to the parking lot outside the nearby Jamesway store, was racially motivated. And police and members of one family involved in the melee said rumors of a planned fight had circulated in the area earlier Friday.

Brothers Michael and Warren Sirk have filed police brutality charges against Tfc. Damon Vinson, a black resident trooper assigned to the Mount Airy area, Michael Sirk said yesterday.

"All of us were at the wrong place at the wrong time," Michael Sirk, a Mount Airy resident, said yesterday.

State police said Saturday that the fight was over Michael Sirk's 14-year-old daughter dating a black youth. State Trooper William Long said Mr. Sirk had told him he didn't approve of interracial relationships and that the 14-year-old, present at the fight, was very upset.

Mr. Sirk was arrested Friday night and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was released on his own recognizance.

But Mr. Sirk said yesterday his 14-year-old daughter was baby-sitting during the fight. He also said he never commented about interracial relationships to Trooper Long.

"The only thing [Trooper] Long did to me was put the handcuffs on me and put me in the cruiser," he said. "I asked him, 'How come I've got these handcuffs on,' and he said, 'Calm down, Mr. Sirk. When I get this all squared away, I'm going to let you go.' "

Mr. Sirk said Trooper Long then spoke with another officer and decided to arrest Mr. Sirk.

Mr. Sirk said his family became involved in the incident when his 17-year-old daughter went to buy chewing tobacco for her boyfriend. Upon leaving the store near the fight scene, a black man approached her, began arguing with her and threatened to "kick her face in", Mr. Sirk said.

The 17-year-old returned home and told her boyfriend, who returned with Mr. Sirk's neighbor and cousin-in-law, Cherokee Roop.

"All Cherokee Roop did was ask why did [the black man] say the things he said to her," Mr. Sirk said. "Then a white dude hit him below the head and a black dude hit him over the head with a PVC pipe."

After Mr. Roop was struck, Mr. Sirk said his nephew came to the Sirk home, where a group of men were playing poker, and told them Mr. Roop was injured. Several people from the group returned to the fight, he said.

Michael Sirk said his brother Warren told Trooper Vinson which two men had attacked Mr. Roop. When Trooper Vinson didn't respond, Warren Sirk told him he was going to make a citizen's arrest.

Michael Sirk said that Trooper Vinson punched Warren Sirk and hit him twice with his nightstick, telling him, "You ain't got no . . . rights."

Greg Shipley, a public information officer for the state police, confirmed that the police brutality complaint had been lodged against Trooper Vinson.

Mr. Sirk said he found out later from his children that rumors had circulated around South Carroll High School about plans for the fight.

David Booz, principal at South Carroll High, confirmed that an incident had taken place at the school Friday. However, he would not say whether it was racial in nature or had anything to do with the brawl in Mount Airy that night.

"I can't comment on discipline actions on kids," he said. "But generally what happens in the community happens in the schools."

Trooper Long said Saturday the state police had received calls alerting them to a possible fight, and said they made periodic checks on the area that evening.

Mr. Shipley said yesterday that police are continuing to investigate the brawl. He said he was unable to confirm which Sirk daughter was at the incident, or who had alerted police to the fight.

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