Minneapolis South High School student brawl involves hundreds

Velette Arroyo
Velette Arroyo, a staffer at South High School, is wheeled to an ambulance after being injured in a fight in the Minneapolis school on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Hundreds of students got into a brawl at Minneapolis South High School Thursday afternoon, after a food fight spun out of control.

The school was placed on a precautionary code yellow lockdown after the incident.

Several students said the fight was sparked by tension between Somali and African American students during lunch. It grew into a melee involving as many as 300 students who were pushing, shoving, and throwing things, according to Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer.

Staff members who tried to intervene were unsuccessful in stopping the fight, and one was struck in the head with a bottle. Palmer said that staff member and three students were taken to the hospital with what he described as minor injuries. The three students suffered injuries unrelated to the fight.

Minneapolis police officers who arrived on the scene broke up the fight by spraying Mace into the air above the crowd.

Tiffany, left, and South High School student Symone Glasper speak to the media after a fight at the school in Minneapolis, Minn. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Tiffany is Symone's mother.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

A student, Symone Glasper, said she walked in late to the third lunch period.

"There was one loud scream," Glasper said. "And I didn't know what was going on and people started running all to one corner, and it was very scary."

The fight started shortly before 1 p.m. and lasted 15 minutes, a statement on the school district's website said.

Thirteen students complained of exposure to Mace.

The school was put on lockdown after the fight, meaning students had to stay in their classrooms. But school was dismissed at the regular time, and afternoon activities went ahead as scheduled.

Stan Alleyne, spokesman for Minneapolis Public Schools, said the brawl was unusual, and grew out of a smaller altercation.

"In a high school, any high school in America, there are going to be fights from time to time," Alleyne said. "South High is a safe school. Did an unfortunate situation happen here today? Absolutely... This is unusual."

No one was arrested, but police will review surveillance video as part of their investigation which may lead to charges, Palmer said.

Video courtesy South High School student Lamar Stark.