Criminal Justice

Riot charges may be filed after cafeteria fight involving 200-plus students

A cafeteria fight involving 200 to 300 students at a Minneapolis high school Thursday could result in riot charges, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The melee was so out of control that when 10 police officers arrived and shouted commands to disperse, the students ignored them, the Los Angeles Times’ report added.

The fighting apparently stemmed from racial tensions concerning Somali-American students at South High School, who feel they have been targeted by others. Students scattered when police sprayed mace above the crowd.

Thursday’s ruckus began during the first lunch period when one student threw a milk carton at another. Word of that and related rumors rippled through the building, and by third lunch, the cafeteria was a crowded tinderbox.

Just two days earlier, the school newspaper ran a story on Somali-American students’ concerns that racial or ethnic tensions had increased. Two of them noted that a welcome banner written in Somali had been ripped off a balcony at the school, and a table the Somali-Americans frequented in the cafeteria had been removed, the Star-Tribune reported.

“This is a high school in America, there are fights,” police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said. “This was just a much larger fight.”

Police are reviewing surveillance video.

Last updated to correct a grammatical error.

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