Watch CBS News

School, Community Aim To Quell South High Racial Issues

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) --Classes at Minneapolis South High School went smoothly on Friday, one day after a food fight led to a brawl involving nearly 300 students, three of which were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

Minneapolis Public School officials say their goal was to make sure South High was as normal as possible on Friday for students. Still, criminal charges could be filed Deputy Chief Kris Arneson says, as investigators are going over surveillance video.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO's Steve Murphy Reports

Student movement throughout the building was restricted – code yellow was enforced – and there were additional Minneapolis police officers, and adult supervision. Counselors were also present to help both sides of an issue talk about their feelings.

Students were allowed in hallways only if they were escorted by faculty or staff.

The food fight was not the first incident between African-American and Somali students. Parents and students both say tensions have been high between the two groups for quite some time.

"It's a racial problem that has been going on and it needs to be addressed, and South High has not been addressing it," parent Lynette Vizenor said.

Minneapolis Public Spokesperson Stan Alleyne responded, "We have students in this building that feel like this is a problem, and we're not going to tell them they're wrong. We're going to address it."

Alleyne says he has been in communication with people in both the African-American and Somali communities, trying to get a commitment from all parties involved to sit down and talk.

Macalester College's Dr. Ahmed Samatar says he saw this clash of cultures coming.

"Here are two people who look alike, but have no symbols between them at all," he said.

Samatar says African-American students know very little about Somali culture, and Somali students know very little about African-Americans.

And Samatar said not knowing about the other, where they came from, their struggles, and their triumphs can cause tension.

He feels the only way to combat these ill feelings is to educate both sides, and hope for mutual respect for one another.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.