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October 10, 2003 05:44 PM

Roosevelt HS Suspends 7 For Racial Fight

Racist words along with fists and feet are the weapons that worry Sioux Falls students Friday. There have been at least three disturbances this week. On Monday police responded to an argument between two groups of students that started after a basketball game at the YMCA. That's at 10th and Minnesota. The next night it escalated and officers broke up a fight involving more than 100 students at 15th and Jefferson and then again at 26th and Sertoma. To understand where the fight started, school officials say you need to go back several years. Administrators say two middle schoolers didn't like each other and now 2 1/2 years later, it's grown into a series of racial fights that the school hopes have come to an end. Early evening on a school night, this is the last place people would want to find students -- being cornered by cops. But that's just what happened Tuesday when school officials say a group of white kids from Roosevelt yelled racial slurs and then got into a fight with black immigrant students from Roosevelt, Lincoln and Washington, all while seventy other students watched. Roosevelt High School Principal Jim Denevan says, "We knew at that point we had a gang mentality." Police arrived and broke up the two groups, but it didn't end there. Denevan says, "The police were able to follow some our kids." Officers found the group of Roosevelt students gathering at a gas station on 26th and Sertoma. Denevan says, "They were able to trap them in there and take down every name and every license number." Using that list, Denevan took action, making some of the group go through counseling and suspending seven Roosevelt students. Denevan says, "The community needs to know about this and we need to be proactive in how we deal with this, we cannot lose any human life in Sioux Falls, South Dakota." Natalie Patch, RHS sophomore, says, "Kids fight a lot and teachers can't stop that outside of school, maybe worry about it a little." Matt Anderson, RHS senior, says, "There's a few kids that think they have to be racists to be tough." Myron Nave, RHS freshman, says, "I thought the whole thing was stupid and dumb." Anderson says, "Both sides are people, they have their own beliefs, I think they should just let it go." Denevan says the school could transfer as many as three of the kids involved in the fights to another school.

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