A series of violent confrontations over the last two weeks between black and Latino students at three South Los Angeles high schools has taken authorities by surprise, raising fears of widening clashes.
Police and school officials have responded with stepped-up patrols in and around Crenshaw, Manual Arts and Jordan high schools. They hope the action will calm tensions in an area with a long history of gang violence and recent ethnic shifts, with once predominantly black neighborhoods increasingly populated by Latino immigrants.
“There’s profound gang issues in some of these communities, and normal tensions in the communities become problems at the schools because the schools basically mirror the community,” said Edward Woodruff, who worked in the youth relations and crime prevention unit of the Los Angeles Unified School District before retiring in June.
The violence began Nov. 19 at Jordan High School when dozens of students started pummeling one another during lunch as about 200 students watched, police said.
She said interracial dating is definitely a source of tension between the two groups, adding that she knows from experience.
“It’s not the easiest thing, because when I was dating a black guy, I had a lot of racial comments,” Chavez said. “Their most common thing is, ‘Stick to your own kind.’”