In March 1977, there was a major disturbance at White Rock Lake.
Dallas police officers came to the park on that spring day to break up fights among parkgoers. A motorcycle cop arrested a man for riding on the hood of a car. Police reinforcements were brought in, some carrying shotguns.
By the end of the event, at least one officer fired a shotgun into the air; police helicopters were ordering people to disperse and even briefly landed on the lawn near the Bath House; and officers on the ground swung billyclubs and flashlights as they moved, The Dallas Morning News reported at the time. There were 49 arrests, many injuries and at least three people were taken to the hospital.
Read more about the riot, and watch video footage of it, here.
The riot is well-known among many neighbors, but the uneventful happenings at the park one week after the riot may not be.
There’s video footage of that Sunday afternoon, too, from the WFAA Collection at the G. William Jones Collection at SMU.
The film shows White Rock Lake Park crowded with people throwing frisbees and footballs, listening to music and hanging out with friends.
“Drink a little beer. Play frisbee, football, you know. Look at the girls,” one parkgoer said.
Park police were present to deter a repeat of the previous weekend’s riot. There were a few arrests for marijuana possession, but that was not unusual, according to the video report.
The tactical section from the nearby Dallas police Northeast station was on standby, ready to shut down traffic into the park, move vehicles out and ease traffic congestion.
“We’re just here in case they call for help,” an officer said in the video.