Thursday afternoon, the lunchroom at Minneapolis' South High School descended into pandemonium as scores of students—as many as 300, by some accounts—started brawling. Police eventually used pepper spray to disperse the crowds.
The fight seems to have been sparked when students jumped into a physical confrontation between two of their classmates. The battle occurred against a backdrop of tension between the school's Somali and African-American communities.
Minneapolis schools spokesperson Stan Alleyne said he thinks a certain amount of fighting is par for the course.
"In a high school, any high school in America, there are going to be fights from time to time," Alleyne said, according to MPR on Thursday. "South High is a safe school. Did an unfortunate situation happen here today? Absolutely... This is unusual."
Despite South High's reputation for tackling race issues head-on—the school boasts a generally well-regarded, student-run anti-racism group—Somali students told several reporters they don't feel safe at the school. MinnPost notes that this seems to be a pattern across the Twin Cities:
Coincidentally, the Minnesota Safe Schools for All Coalition has scheduled a youth conference on the state's anti-bullying laws for Monday, Feb. 18. Schools across Minnesota have grappled with bullying and violence in the past several years, and the state's largest district is embarking on an ambitious attempt to monitor its schools' climates after settling a lawsuit with LGBT students who said administrators ignored the bullying they faced.
Are school fights getting out of hand? Do they seem worse than in years past? Are administrators in your district doing enough?