Police officer uses pepper spray to break up New Jersey high school brawl

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Thursday, April 6, 2017
Cop uses pepper spray to break up brawl at NJ school
AJ Ross has the latest details.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Police had to use pepper spray to break up a massive fight outside a New Jersey high school earlier this week.

The brawl happened just after 3 p.m. Monday at Dickinson High School in Jersey City and reportedly involved dozens of students and several smaller fights as onlookers flooded the street near the school.

A police officer working at the school reportedly overheard students speaking about a street fight planned for 3:30 p.m. around the corner from the Palisades Avenue school, then noticed a crowd of about 50 students rushing to the scene immediately after dismissal.

"I feel like it wasn't only the Dickinson kids that fought," student Fathima Syed said. "I think it was like other schools as well."

Students say several hundred kids were watching and cheering on several fights that spilled into nearby streets.

"It was crazy," one student said, "It was, like, people all over the place."

Authorities say the officer called for backup and attempted to break up at least two melees involving four to six individuals each, with other students standing on top of cars and disrupting traffic.

"People were climbing over the cars," one student said. "One guy took out his belt, and he started whipping it over the car on this other guy."

The officer was unable to halt the fighting with verbal commands, prompting him to employ his pepper spray to disperse the crowds after those involved failed to obey his commands.

The officer gave chase to one male he witnessed assaulting another individual, but the suspect was able to escape as dozens of teenagers ran in different directions.

One 14-year-old boy was taken to the hospital as a result of being hit with the pepper spray.

Jersey City police are still investigating the incident, but so far, no arrests have been made.

The school district on Thursday issued the following statement:

On Monday afternoon, a fight occurred near Dickinson High School after school was dismissed. The school was notified that a Dickinson HS student had been stabbed during the melee, but did not suffer severe injury. The incident did not occur on school property and does not appear to have originated in the school. The Jersey City Police Department responded quickly and is investigating the incident. School staff are working with police in their investigation and in helping ensure student safety. Police have been, and will continue to be, visible and responsive in the area and have been on special patrols each day since the fight.

Dickinson High School has been working to develop programs to help address issues in the community that periodically impact on the school and lead to incidents like the one that occurred Monday. The school has anti-violence student groups and anti-bullying programs as well as mentoring programs that develop student leadership and provide social, emotional and academic supports. The school is currently developing a program that will help students deal with conflicts constructively and which will also provide support to the larger community. The conflicts amongst students at Dickinson are part of larger issues facing the city as a whole. The District welcomes the opportunity to work with the City Council, the Jersey City Police Department and other concerned residents to help deescalate the violence that is impacting young people across the city.