Hempstead High on Guard Following 2 Days of Brawls

Jennifer McLogan, WCBS-TV (New York), October 21, 2008

A Long Island school was on guard on Tuesday after two days of fighting led to dozens of suspensions at Hempstead High School. District officials took action against the troublemakers, fearing the violence would escalate.

They held up their suspension notices like badges of honor. One dozen Hempstead High students kicked out Tuesday, separated themselves by racial and ethnic affiliation.

“I am just trying to defend myself and my friends. That’s it. I don’t know if it is racial,” suspended student Brian Gomez said.

Added Johnathan Vega: “They be groupin’ up, and I just had to defend my people and that’s what I do.”

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“No security in there . . . everybody for themselves,” Morrison [a suspended student] said. “What do you expect . . . a bunch of Hispanic kids coming at a bunch of black kids.”

Following two days of fighting that spiraled out of control, and the cancelling of the homecoming pep rally, police from Hempstead Village and undercover officers from Nassau County Police joined school security in returning peace to the school on Tuesday, patrolling the campus perimeter and walking the hallways, quelling another day of confrontation.

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The principal said the fights involved about 100 of the 1,600 students here. The principal is assuring parents that the trouble is over, and education is the priority.

Teachers in class Tuesday told students to focus on positive dreams for their futures, reminding them the governor of New York is a Hempstead high grad and that a minority is running for president.

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