Citizens Against Hate

…seeking a kinder and gentler world

Another Jena In The Making?

Posted by nicolen on October 7, 2007

Is there another Jena, LA in the making here? While school officials try to downplay last weeks events the community seems to have a totally different point of view.

erik-and-erasmo-cora.jpghttp://local.lancasteronline.com/4/210550

Warwick: 12 students took part in harassment
Superintendent says district action to be taken and Internet sites being watched; freshman target in racial incident tells of experience

By PAUL FRANZ, Staff writer
Sunday News

Published: Oct 07, 2007 12:20 AM EST

LITITZ, Pa – Editor’s note: Some of the language in this report might be offensive to readers.
Warwick School District Superintendent John George said 12 high school students who were involved in Wednesday’s racial threats against minority students were identified by police.

“We have the names of the students involved,” he said Saturday night. “They are being monitored.”

The incident at Warwick High School involved at least 12 white students harassing minority students with racial epithets and throwing trash at them. Several students also told the Sunday News at week’s end that some white students had threatened to bring guns to school.

There has been no official confirmation of a gun threat.

However, the racial incident Wednesday was taken seriously and prompted teachers at the school to contact officials and borough police Thursday.

The next day, police greeted students at school. Personal belongings were searched and metal detectors were used.

A recommendation by the district board to take action against the 12 will be forthcoming at an undetermined date, George said.

“The police will be looking into pressing charges,” he said.

Police cited one male student with disorderly conduct last week.

Erik Cora, a black 14-year-old freshman, said he witnessed the event and was targeted by the 12 white students.

Cora said that the perpetrators, who often wear clothing with Confederate flags and hang out in front of the school, “never started anything violent until Wednesday.”

“All my friends told me [Warwick] is a white, racist school,” Cora said, of warnings he received before the incident from friends who do not attend the school.

The student said the incident began early in the morning, before school started after “Confederate gang members,” who are also students, began throwing paper and candy at him and two of his friends, who are also black.

“One of them threw a paper ball at my friend and called him a ‘nigger,’ ” Cora said. “We tried to move away, but they started throwing other things.

“The rednecks said they wanted to bring guns,” he said. “They stare at us and give us glares.”

By the end of Wednesday, he said the “Confederate gang members” wanted to fight minority students.

Another incident occurred in the school’s lunchroom, where a verbal altercation took place, George said. Students told the Sunday News that altercation took place Thursday.

An investigation into the incident by police and school officials is ongoing.

“We need to do some healing in our community,” George said.

Attempts to reach high school officials and school board members were unsuccessful Saturday. Lititz Borough police forwarded all press inquiries to the superintendent’s office.

Although a statement issued by the district says, “We are confident that the issue under investigation is limited in scope,” parents and students at the high school think otherwise.

One 14-year-old female freshman said that she was aware of students who said they are a part of the Ku Klux Klan.

Erasmo Cora Jr., Erik’s father, criticized the school district’s handling of the incident. If there have been previous racial threats, Cora wasn’t aware of any.

“Nobody says anything. [The district] tries to cover anything up,” said Cora. “That wasn’t fair of the district or the school [not to notify parents immediately].”

Several students, whom other Warwick students identified as having been among those involved in Wednesday’s incident, maintain MySpace pages on the Internet, where they boast about their trucks and talk of “redneck row,” the area in the student parking lot where they park and hang out.

On one 17-year-old student’s page, a friend commented Oct. 4, the day of the incident: “hey man that was bullshit this morning but it was kinda funny i think you scared the shit out of that cop.”

One 17-year-old Lititz youth, who on his MySpace page identifies himself as a Warwick student, has a history of posting to Stormfront.org, a white supremacist Web site owned by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black. There is no confirmation that the student was involved in Wednesday’s incident.

Tuesday, the student posted a message to the site: “all my friends have Rebel flags mounted on there [sic] truck beds now. It’s funny as hell seeing them pull in, and hearing the handful of black kids at my school yell at them. You just got to give it right back to them.”

The user also maintains a site on MySpace that has a picture of himself holding what appears to be a shotgun with the caption “border hoppers beware.”

“We have officials monitoring various Internet sites,” George said.

Parents apparently weren’t convinced that their kids were safe at school Friday, despite the fact that students were checked with metal detectors by police and searched.

“I will keep my stepdaughter out until something can be done, more than searching [the students],” said Charles Fatjo of Lititz.

The school sent out a message to parents that they could take their children out of school if they were “feeling uncomfortable.”

By Friday afternoon, scores of parents were taking their children out of school. By 1:30 p.m., about 500 students were signed out by their parents, according to district spokeswoman Lori Zimmerman.

Warwick has one of the lowest diversity rates of the county’s 16 public school districts. About 94 percent of the students are white, according to the Department of Education’s Web site for the 2006-07 school year.

Police said that no “items” were found in the searches of students Friday, and the district continues to describe the event Wednesday as a “nonviolent incident with racial overtones.”

A district statement said that all extracurricular and athletic activities will proceed on schedule, and that police will search students again on Tuesday when classes resume after the Columbus Day holiday.

It is unknown whether the extra security will continue past Tuesday.

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One Response to “Another Jena In The Making?”

  1. MT said

    What was the big deal about the Jena 6? They beat the shit out of some cracker and they’re the victims? You do know that most of the 6 already had violent records and pasts right? Not like they were some angels that were going somewhere. They all have very violent history’s

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