Leaders promise ongoing conversation after racial fight at South High

5:49 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- District leaders promise the conversation will continue about ways to deal with racial tension at South High School, one day after that tension erupted into a brawl involving hundreds of students.

On Thursday, up to 300 students joined a fight that district leaders now acknowledge was likely due to racial tensions between Somali-American students and other students. At least three students and one staff member were injured in the fight. Police also say charges could be filed.

On Friday, the school remained calm and quiet. The district imposed a "code yellow lockdown," including limited access into and out of the building and additional school resource officers and staff members.

District leaders say they're prepared to deal with what students say was at the heart of Thursday's clash.

"We have a significant amount of students that feel it was racial. We need to deal with that," said Stan Alleyne, spokesman for Minneapolis Public Schools.

Alleyne said the district will be encouraging students to talk through conflicts. The school will also be hosting a community meeting for others interested in weighing in on the issue.

"We know that's going to be part of the healing," Alleyne said.

And already, at least one South High student and his mother, agree.

"My mom said one person cannot affect a whole society. It needs more than one person," said Adnan Farah, 17, about his mother, Ayan.

"You may be different color. You might speak a different language. But we're all human," Adnan added.

Alleyne said 1,750 students attend South High School. Nearly half of those students are people of color. And of those, eight percent are Somali-American students.

Meantime, Somali-American leaders believe Thursday's incident only emphasizes the need for communication between the larger Minnesota community and one sub-community that first started immigrating to Minnesota decades ago.

"We have to do a lot to bridge these cultural differences," said Said Sheik-Abdi, a program manager for the American Refugee Committee.

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