Large Fight Erupts at High School

Large Fight Erupts at High School
By: Carly O'Keefe

MT. VERNON, Ill. - Mt. Vernon High School was put on lockdown for about an hour Wednesday afternoon following a lunch-hour altercation.
Superintendent Terry Milt says somewhere between 400 to 500 high school students were on their lunch break in the quad when several skirmishes erupted requiring police intervention. Students say as many as 30 students were involved in the altercation.
"It wasn't a riot, or anything close to a riot.  It was over within 10 minutes.  We had everyone back in class," said Milt.
Milt says fighting is not common at Mt. Vernon High School and he isn't sure what caused the recent student unrest.
"We had a dance last weekend and after the dance we had some minor altercations and we had a couple of fights on campus yesterday, and I think they're all tied together," said Milt.
Two minors were arrested on aggravated battery charges for allegedly assaulting teachers.  The teachers were not seriously injured and did not require hospitalization.  A third student was arrested for disorderly conduct and many more students may face disciplinary action through the school.
"We really don't know who all was involved.  We'll go through the normal due process with the ones we know were involved, and we'll review our video tapes and we have a lot of eye witnesses, students, teachers, and we know a lot of the culprits too," said Milt.
Students who witnessed the brawl say it started out very small.
"At first it was just a black girl and a white girl and then the white girl's boyfriend jumped in to get her off of her, and then the black girl's boyfriend jumped in, and then a whole group of black and white people jumped in and started fighting," said Mt. Vernon High School senior Joel Rush.
Mt. Vernon Police Chief Chris Mendenall doesn't believe the altercation was racially motivated, but rather a case of two people not liking one another and acting on that aggression.  Some students think it might be a little bit of both.
"I think it's kind of racial, most people don't care about the racial thing, but some students have a big problem with it," said Rush.   
School was dismissed early at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday instead of 3:00 p.m. to calm down any possible acts of violence.  School will be back in session Thursday.  Administrators say there will be an increased police presence just in case, but otherwise it'll be business as usual.