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SOUTH LOS ANGELES — During a forum this week on racially motivated violence at Jefferson High School, the president of the school’s Black Student Union said that she, like a number of other African-American students, was considering leaving the school for good out of fear of being “jumped.”
Meanwhile, Minister Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam pledged protection to students who feel threatened by what is described as a growing, palpable tension between blacks and Latinos on the campus.
Those were just two of the latest developments as parents, students, educators and the community at large continues to grapple with a series of incidents that have received wide attention and drew more than 100 attendees to a Tuesday night forum at Bethel AME Church.
Because of several recent altercations at Jefferson High School, officials have seen attendance drop by more than 50 percent on some days. For example, following an April 14 brawl 1,346 students were absent. After another scrape on April 18, nearly 1,100 missed school the next day.
“What I want to know is what are we, as African Americans going to do about it?” asked Mary Washington, the BSU president. “We are dying at Jefferson High School. Six percent there are [black] and 94.6 percent are Latinos. [School officials] threatened to take away my scholarship if I don’t sit down and shut up. And I won’t.”
Fifteen-year-old Stephanie Alonzo, who saw a friend knocked down and kicked several times during one of the brawls, believes that blacks and Latino should be separated when they aren’t in class. “The police let us fight,” said another teenager at the forum who declined to give her name. “I’m telling you the truth. What you hear on the news is a lie. They let us fight.”
(Posted on April 28, 2005)