Another Brawl at Jefferson High Ends in 2 Arrests, a Broken Hip

Officials say race played a role in the second incident in a week. Two students are held on suspicion of battery on a police officer.

April 19, 2005|Nicholas Shields | Times Staff Writer

Two Jefferson High School students were arrested and another broke his hip Monday in the second melee on the campus in less than a week, authorities said.

More than 100 black and Latino students were involved in what administrators say was a racially and gang-motivated brawl. Officials said school police used pepper spray to defend themselves and quell the melee.

The incident occurred near the cafeteria at 12:15 p.m., when the two groups began gathering separately, officials said.

"Despite efforts to keep everybody apart, there was this intent to fight," said Alan Kerstein, chief of the Los Angeles School Police Department.

Kerstein said six students were detained and two were arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer. He said students tossed rocks at officers and one student broke his hip as he attempted to flee police.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 21, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
Jefferson High -- A photo caption with an article in Tuesday's California section about a brawl at Jefferson High School misidentified two people coming out of the school as a mother and her daughter. The woman pictured is special education assistant Irene Vasquez, and the girl is an unidentified student.

Officials said 16 school and LAPD officers had been on campus since the brawl Thursday, which also involved about 100 black and Latino students. School administrators had been reluctant then to label the fight as being racially motivated but now acknowledge that racial tensions on the campus played a role.

Following last week's brawl, students were escorted to their classrooms, and after a brief lockdown, were released early.

Hours after Monday's brawl, many Jefferson students said they feared that the racial tension at the school would only intensify. "Maybe tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday -- it's going to get even worse," said Jorge Santizo, 19.

The left side of Dayson Sinclair's head was noticeably swollen Monday, three hours after the melee. He said the bruise came from the brawl. "I can't even enjoy school," Sinclair, 18, said. "We need metal detectors in there."

District 5 Supt. Rowena Lagrosa said she didn't know what has caused the increase in racial tension but said gang activity was spilling into the school.

She said a community forum to discuss the problem had been scheduled for April 27, but after the latest melee, the school is hoping to hold the forum this week.

Lagrosa said the school was making some immediate changes: All students would enter the school through one entrance at 41st and Hooper Avenue; a metal detector would be used there; and no one would be allowed to enter the school wearing gang paraphernalia. She also said students would be provided boxed lunches and be dismissed to their parents during lunchtime.

"It has been a very strong wake-up call," Lagrosa said. "Some of these things are Band-Aids, but what we really have to do is change attitudes and beliefs."

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