Tensions Rise at Digital Harbor High Between African-American and Latino Students

Meghan McCorkell, CBS Baltimore, June 3, 2014

Racial tensions erupted both inside and outside Digital Harbor High School in Federal Hill over the past week. Now school officials and the police are coming together to try to put an end to the violence. Students say the feud is between African Americans and Latinos.

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Tuesday night, parents were called to a meeting with police and school officials to try and curb fears. Police increased patrols outside Digital Harbor High School after tensions between students boil over.

“There were some problems between students, and that’s what started everything,” said Jose Dominguez, student.

Dominguez says his fellow classmates are scared to walk the halls after two students were attacked last week after school.

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“It’s like segregation. Hispanic kids stay on one side. The African Americans stay on the other,” said Sevi Chaplin, a student at the school. “They’ve been breaking out into fights, riots, everything else.”

Some parents are so fearful they’ve kept their kids home. “I didn’t send mine back Monday or Tuesday, yesterday or today. No, I didn’t,” said concerned mother Kisha Jackson.

Frightened for his life, 10th grader Ali Majeki is on edge. He says he has to constantly watch is back in school. He said the diversity divide is the talk of the halls.

“Every teacher is walking and talking about this situation,” Majeki said.

A few students say it escalated between African Americans and Latinos after the murder of a former Mexican student, 15-year-old Oscar Torres.

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Tuesday night, school leaders, security officers and city police came together to discuss their response to the violence.

It’s a move the mayor says is a step in the right direction.

“You have to confront it. You can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Parents say some of the subjects discussed in the meeting have calmed some of their fears.

“They are going to work with more cultural diversity in the classroom with the students, more community involvement with the community with the school,” said Michelle Smalls, parent.

Students were also asked to take a pledge called “Stop Hatin, No Mas”–vowing to put an end to the violence.

Police say they will continue to beef up patrols around the school until the end of the school year.

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[Editor’s Note: Digital Harbor High is 72 percent black, 17 percent white, and 8 percent Hispanic.]

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