Actor joins activists to end racial violence at L.A. schools

Actor joins activists to end racial violence at L.A. schools
Several campuses have seen fights
May 29, 2005
LOS ANGELES — Actor Louis Gossett Jr. joined community activists Saturday in calling for an end to violence between blacks and Hispanics after a series of racially charged brawls at public schools.
At South Los Angeles’ Leimert Park, about 100 people held hands and bowed their heads in prayer for a summer without youth and gang violence. Spoken word artists railed against street violence, a Hispanic rap group performed and activists called for peace.
“This is very serious. Every parent across the country should be here trying to stop the violence and the killing,” said Ted Snyder, 61, who volunteers for a group that helps at-risk youth.

Gossett said that while the rally came in response to recent fights at city schools, it was meant to calm tensions generally.

“Those of us who are responsible have to take our children and our streets back,” Gossett said before the prayer. “We’ve got to stop our children from killing each other.”

The latest student fracas came Thursday at Jefferson High School and involved several dozen black and Hispanic teens, the third brawl on campus in six weeks. There were no major injuries, though 22 students were suspended, officials said.

Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa went to the school Friday to appeal for an end to the racially motivated violence. Villaraigosa united black and Hispanic voters this month to become the city’s first Hispanic mayor in a century.

Fights also have broken out at other high schools, including Los Angeles High School. Officials were investigating the causes, but believe that off-campus gang activity and other problems might have spilled onto campus.

“Too many of our young people don’t have good role models,” said Christopher Cherry, 22, of Inglewood. “And now the gangs on our streets are coming into our schools. It’s too much.”

He said his 16-year-old sister is being home-schooled because of concerns about her safety at her Inglewood high school.

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