Monday, January 24, 2005

High school race violence

Racial attacks are a growing problem in a California high school:

Concerns about racial violence are high at Bear Creek High School, where one student was arrested last week and two others have been suspended after attacks on white students, Stockton police and Lodi Unified officials said Friday.

The arrest came after a student was beat up near the school gym on Wednesday. In a separate incident the same day, another teen was attacked in a boys' bathroom.

In both cases, the victims -- ages 15 and 16 -- were white and their alleged assailants were Black, police and school officials said.

Both victims suffered minor injuries. School officials say they also have yet to find any videotape of the assaults, even though the victims said their attackers were taping the beatings.

"I've heard the allegation that there was a videotape of someone getting jumped, but we have no proof of it," said Dennis Brown, Lodi Unified's assistant superintendent of secondary education.

School officials also said they didn't have any proof that the beatings were racially motivated.

Some parents and students are concerned school officials are ill-equipped to handle the escalating violence.

Debra Kahoalii said a teacher had to escort her 18-year-old son off campus Friday after he felt threatened by a group of Black students.

"They are waiting for white students as they go through the passing periods (between classes) and getting them then, or they try to gang up on them at lunch time," she said.

Bear Creek Principal Bill Toledo said the term "White Wednesday" has been used to describe incidents in which groups of Black students supposedly ambush white students and videotape the attacks.

"But we have no credible evidence that that has happened," said Toledo, who was inundated with calls from worried parents on Thursday and Friday.

"If it is true, it will be dealt with very quickly. It is just not acceptable or appropriate and won't be tolerated," he said.

Joseph, a Black 16-year-old Bear Creek sophomore, said the attacks aren't just focused on one ethnic group. Asian and Latino students aren't immune to becoming beating victims at the school, where he said gangs, gambling and drugs are common.

His mother asked his last name not be used for fear of retribution.

"Black kids fight everybody," said Joseph, who said he personally has no conflicts with other students.


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