Classes resume after brawl at LI high school

March 9, 2010 6:31:01 AM PST
Classes resumed Tuesday with extra police and security in place at a high school on Long Island.Eight students were hurt during a brawl at Hempstead High School on Monday.

A fight erupted into an all out-brawl on campus, with bottles being hurled. It got so out of hand that students were immediately sent home for the afternoon.

Cell phone video, grainy and a bit shaky, captured the pandemonium that erupted at the high school.

"First, it started off as a little food fight, water fight," one student said. "Then escalated from there.

"Everybody just starting fighting, throwing bottles, stabbing each other," another said.

"People were pulling lockers on their head, bleeding," said another.

"Teachers getting punched," another said.

Police and EMTs rushed to the high school, but by then it was an all-out brawl.

"The security guards, they tried to pull back, but it's so many kids," a student said. "They can't do anything."

The 1,400-student high school has a history of violent confrontations among students, particularly fueled by racial divisions between those of African-American and Latino descent.

They are divisions students say were in play during the violence. But even in spite of the history, the Hempstead school district recently cut on-campus police resource officers, instead relying on security guards.

"When they had those two resource officers here, there were problems, but it wasn't like what it is now," community advocate Rev. Dorothy LaPierre said. "And what I seen now is terrible. I never seen kids going to the hospital, going to a stretcher.

Charles Renfroe is the school board president.

"I can't elaborate. All I can say is there was budgetary constraints," he said. "We either had to have a resource officers or teachers."

A total of eight students were hurt in the brawl, but none of the injuries were life threatening. No arrests have been made.