Numerous reports -- including some from our own commenters who have children attending Minneapolis South High School or are alums themselves -- chalk up yesterday's scary lunchroom brawl to long-simmering tensions between the school's Somali and African American students.
One of many cell phone videos of the melee makes its racial component clear, as a student can be heard saying, "Somalis just be getting knocked out!"
"Hell yeah!" somebody standing next to the student replies.
[jump] Here are some other things said by the student during the video, followed by the raw footage:
"Should I just stick a Somalian?"
"Oh! Look at that old-ass teacher getting punched."
"Why do these 'Malis think they hard? They don't [unintelligible] shit!"
Another video posted to YouTube by that same user shows students quickly fleeing after police fired a "chemical irritant" to disburse the lunchroom mob:
The Star Tribune details some of the racial tensions Somalis at South have been feeling. Somalis make up eight percent of the school's students; African-Americans make up 20 percent. From the Strib:
While school district leaders said they didn't know what sparked the fights, students such as Adnan Farah said they were the culmination of increasing racial tensions. "This school is not safe for Somali students," said Farah, a junior. "Throughout this year, there have been a lot of fights." Senior Guled Omar said he and other Somali-American students feel targeted at the school. "I don't know if it's because we're minorities or the newest immigrant group," he said. Omar said that students have complained to the school district and principal about perceived discrimination, but that nothing has been done. School district spokesman Stan Alleyne said he couldn't comment on the students' claims, but added that the district takes any complaints about racism seriously. "It is a safe school," he said. Principal Cecilia Saddler did not reply to messages to comment...Police say seeds for the brawl were planted when one student threw a milk carton at another during the first lunch period yesterday, with the food fight escalating into something much scarier during the third lunch period. WCCO reports on the final injury tally:
The fighting came two days after an article in South's student newspaper, the Southerner, described Somali-American students' sense that tension around ethnic or racial differences has grown this year. Two students told the newspaper that earlier this school year, a welcome banner in Somali was ripped off a balcony by two students and that a lunch table that primarily had been used by East African students was removed from the lunchroom.
The article also described recent efforts to increase dialogue, such as creation of a Somali Student Association.
Those taken to the hospital were a school staff member, who was hit in the head with a bottle, and three students, who suffered injuries unrelated to the fight, the school said. It did not elaborate on what injured the three students.Classes are being held at South today, but the school will be on lockdown, meaning "Students will have to stay in their classrooms during class and access to the building will be limited," the Pioneer Press reports.
Twelve people complained that they had been sprayed with mace. Police at the scene said they had to use chemical agent to get the crowd under control as they were being pelted with objects as they tried to break things up.
To see another student-shot video of the lunchroom throwdown, click to page two.