Two Suburban Schools Refuse Trips to Newark for Football

Mike Kinney and Mark Mueller, Star-Ledger (Newark), Oct. 27, 2008

Two suburban high schools refused to play football games tonight in Newark, citing worries about safety after a spate of drive-by shootings in the city Friday left two people dead and another injured.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and Cranford High School balked at playing games rescheduled from last Friday and Saturday. Newark school Superintendent Clifford Janey had suspended all athletic events districtwide while police were hunting for suspects in the Friday afternoon shootings.

Two alleged gang members have since been charged in the attacks.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood athletic director Robert Harmer said the decision not to come to the city tonight for a makeup game against Malcolm X Shabazz High School reflected concerns by parents and administrators. The game had been rescheduled for 7 p.m. at Untermann Field.

“The bottom line is the welfare of our kids,” Harmer said. “They pulled the plug on this on Friday, and right now, 72 hours after all this has taken place, we just felt we should let the smoke settle.”

Officials at Newark’s Central High School, which was to play Cranford last Friday, agreed to give up its home-field advantage and play on a neutral field tonight. Playing in Roselle Park, Cranford won the game, 33-12.

The decisions by the suburban schools underscored Newark’s struggle to shake its reputation as an unsafe city, even as it has seen far fewer homicides this year than last year. The city has recorded 52 slayings so far this year, compared with 83 over the same period a year ago.

A Newark city spokeswoman, Esmeralda Diaz Cameron, called the schools’ choice “unfortunate.”

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Friday’s shootings unfolded over a half hour in four locations. Killed were Quadir Burroughs, 22, and Angelina Evans, 24. A 27-year-old man was wounded. Police have charged Scott Banks and Nashon Brown, both 20, with murder.

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