Some parents claim officers used too much force against the students
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chaos erupted at a Northwest Side high school Friday afternoon and four students were arrested after police responded to fights at Roberto Clemente Community Academy in Ukrainian Village.
An officer called for backup shortly after 12:30 p.m. for a "large scale physical altercation" at the campus at 1147 N. Western Ave., according to Chicago police. It's unclear how many students were involved.
"I went downstairs and there were a whole bunch of police. Everybody was fighting, everyone was jumping everybody. It was a whole bunch of chaos," said Clemente High School senior, Keishaliz Lopez.
Police said four officers sustained a minor injury to the head, and one student had a panic attack, police and fire officials said.
Four juveniles were arrested but charges haven't been filed, police said.
Representatives for Chicago Public Schools did not immediately release information.
Several students said there were other fights at the school earlier in the week and that Friday's fights were likely related.
One student said she was on the top floor of the school and saw a fight break out, sparking a larger confrontation between students who poured out of classrooms.
"It was a fight. It was mob action," Lopez said. "The whole school just went crazy after that."
She wandered the halls looking for her sister when she saw officers responding to the school. She claimed officers "man-handled" her while she tried stop the fighting.
"Mind you, I'm very much skinny. I got marks all over my arms. I was mad," Lopez said. "I was getting upset because why are you touching me like that when I'm all calm, not a danger to nobody... I was confused, I was mad, I was crying. I was more scared of the cops than the fight."
She said she is considering transferring from the school.
Other students also said officers were the ones to use force.
"They were hitting me and my sister, and they were trying to cop us and body slam us," said sophomore Anelis Delgado.
As parents waited outside, one man approached an officer and accused him of hitting his son in the back of the head with a baton while trying to break up the fights.
He demanded the officers name and badge number.
"You put your hands on my son," the man yelled as he followed the officer to a squad car.
Other parents made similar claims, denouncing officers for allegedly using too much force against the students.
"When I got here, she got a scratch on her body because one of the police officers grabbed my baby, trying to bring her outside," said concerned mother, Winny Delgado.
More than a dozen police cars could be seen outside the high school. Crumpled sheets of paper and pencils littered the ground. Students leaned out of the school's open windows.
One parent standing outside said he heard about the fighting and came to pick up his child, but was told students were being kept inside. Around a dozen other parents stood outside near the doors and courtyard, waiting to see when their children would be released.
""You have all these parents here waiting. They want their babies, right," said parent Juanita Garcia.
"As soon as she gets out of school, I got to get out of here so I don't have to be in any gang conflicts or police presence or any of that," added fellow concerned parent, Jamie Barrera.
Clemente High School's principal issued a statement Friday night about the altercation:
"The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority, which is why I am reaching out to you about an incident that occurred at school today. This afternoon, there was a physical altercation between students inside of our school building. Clemente staff immediately intervened to ensure the safety of all members of our community. The school issued a robocall to notify parents that we would be using a modified staggered dismissal process this afternoon.
While the initial incident was small, many students did leave their classrooms to try to witness the situation and the school then went on a lockdown. We immediately notified the CPS Office of Safety and Security and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) about the incidents, and CPD arrived quickly to provide additional safety supports to our community. We are handling these incidents in accordance with CPS policy, and the parents of all impacted students have been contacted.
We want to emphasize that incidents like these do not meet the expectations of the positive culture and climate that we have built at Clemente. Many students may have witnessed this altercation, and we will have additional crisis supports at our school on Monday to support students who were impacted by this incident.
Our entire school team is looking forward to working with all of you to ensure that our school community is the safe and supportive environment that our students deserve.
Thank you for your support. Please contact us with any questions or concerns at 773-534-4000."
The Sun-Times Media report contributed to this post.
EDITORIAL NOTE: The video featured says one student was arrested and one officer was injured, but police have since updated to reflect four officers suffered minor injuries and a total of four students have been arrested.