Fights revive gang concerns
Farrington will add security next week to maintain calm
The principal of Farrington High School believes the two gang-related fights forcing the school to go into lock-down yesterday could be part of a recent increase in gang activity.
"Definitely there's an increase," said Farrington Principal Catherine Payne. "You can just tell from the graffiti in the town. Almost all the schools are affected."
One of the fights between about six ninth-graders started during lunch with one group wearing blue and another wearing red, Payne said.
A second fight started almost at the same time on another part of the campus. About 15 students were involved in the fight, Payne said.
Police were called in to secure the perimeter of the area, while five security staff on site contained both fights.
Some students had scrapes or bruises, but no one was seriously hurt, Payne said. No weapons were used.
Because there were no arrests, no injuries and no victims, police did not open an investigation of the incident, said police spokeswoman Michelle Yu.
The school will increase security on Monday with five more private security officers in addition to five security officers who are state Department of Education staff members.
She said officials want to be extra-vigilant to make sure things have calmed down in the last week before spring break.
Counselors were visiting the homes of the students involved in the fight to sort out the incident, Payne said.
Adult Friends for Youth, a youth gang intervention program, also came to campus yesterday.
Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said gang activity is not widespread in Hawaii's schools.
"It's disturbing in that it is gang-related because that is not part of our schools," he said. "It's been at least 10 years since that's been a central feature in disturbances in our schools."
In February 2005, police investigated a series of fights between Farrington and Kalakaua Middle School students off campus in Kalihi.
Students said the fights occurred after school, at Kalakaua Gym next to the middle school and at Kamehameha Field across from Kamehameha Shopping Center.
Thursday morning, a fight at Nanakuli High School resulted in the arrest of 11 students for disorderly conduct. Officials said the fight was not gang-related.