In the aftermath of Thursday’s Minneapolis South High brawl involving more than 200 students, everyone from the police, to students, to school administrators agree it could have been so much worse. Three students and one staff member were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

Twelve students were treated at the scene after being overcome by fumes from the mace that police had to use to subdue the crowd. And while it’s true the physical injuries could have been a lot worse, South High’s reputation has taken a serious blow. For students and staff that is no doubt a difficult thing to deal with.

As reporters were led into a news conference after the riot, an administrator asked if reporters knew that the school had two National Merit Scholars. Clearly there are good things about South.

A few weeks ago I did a story on a Somali language class at the school. The Somali students at South are learning Somali so they can speak to their parents, some of whom speak little English. The students I interviewed for the story were bright and positive. The students I spoke with after the riot were scared and angry.

The melee was captured on surveillance cameras. The students responsible for the worst violence will likely face criminal charges and almost certain school disciplinary actions. But the other kids need help, too. Community leaders were brought into the school the day after the riot to discuss tensions between different racial groups. Hopefully that is just the start.

The students and staff at South High deserve a comprehensive effort by the Minneapolis School District to make sure something approaching Thursday’s riot never happens again.

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