The influx of hundreds of southeast Asian Hmong immigrants into Gentry, Arkansas has caused an increase in racial violence
Between November and January, police arrested 14 students of Gentry Public Schools following what authorities labeled "racially motivated" fights. All of the clashes involved Hmong youths squaring off against either Hispanic or white peers.
The conflicts involved multiple students, sent a child to the hospital and got two Hmong and two Hispanic teens expelled from school.
Authorities say school-based interventions and a law enforcement crackdown are reducing tensions in this community of cattle ranchers and chicken farmers, but concerns remain that another episode could spark more serious violence.
"We really want to make people aware of what's going on over there before someone gets killed," said Tessie Ajala, who led an intervention at the high school sponsored by the National Crime Prevention Council's Outreach to New Americans.
The nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based program aims to prevent crime and crime victimization within refugee and immigrant communities, according to its mission statement.
"We don't want another Columbine over there," Ajala said, referring to the Colorado school shootings by two students that left 15 people, including the two attackers, dead.
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