Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Race riot at Fontana High School in California

Leonor Vivanco:

Bottles, rocks and fists flew during lunchtime Friday at Fontana High School.

Students poured out of classrooms when they said a fire alarm rang around noon. They then saw what they described as a racial or gang-related riot erupting among about 500 students on the quad of the campus near Citrus Avenue.

Some flocked to the chaotic melee with their cell phones taking pictures and recording video while others fled to get out of the way. Helicopters circled over the school.

"There were fights everywhere - girls and guys," said Dalila Lizarraga, 16.

Campus police officers sprinted across four lanes of traffic on Citrus to the high school from the Fontana Unified School District offices when they got the call about a disturbance.

The fight initially started when one black student and one Latino student exchanged words, taunting each other during a pep rally on campus, said Fontana police Sgt. Doug Wagner. It then became physical.

"After the two students started fighting, additional students of the same races joined in," Wagner said. "At one point, a Samoan group joined in the fight, and that is when it got out of control."

Wagner said he did not think the fight was gang-related.

More than 100 law-enforcement officers from different agencies, including the Fontana Police Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and members of the Fontana police SWAT team converged on the campus and pried students apart.

At least six students were arrested, Wagner said.

"Two of them were charged with assault with a deadly weapon, meaning rocks," he said. "And the rest of the charges were for resisting arrest."

Sophomore Abigail Orozco said the fight was the biggest one yet at the school.

"It's Friday the 13th, so maybe that's why," she said.

But students say fights are common on school grounds.

"It all started with blacks versus Mexicans, as always," said.

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Racial tension blamed for Fontana High riot

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Race Riots In California Schools: “What Makes Us Special…”


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