By Charles Sercombe
For the past several weeks, roving gangs of teens have been running through the city’s streets and getting into fights.
The menace has now spilled over to the general public, police say.
Last Friday, police say a gang of teens were caught on camera beating up a young man near Hungry Howie’s. The gang may have been responsible for two other beatings that day, police say.
The motive for the apparent random beatings? Police say that in only one incident was there a robbery. The other two confrontations appeared to be beating someone up just for kicks because all three victims said they did nothing to provoke an attack.
No arrests have been made but police say they know the identities of several of the youths. Speaking in private, police investigators say arrests are being held off because the victims have become reluctant to help police or identify the attackers.
Friday’s incidents are only part of what appears to be a growing problem with high school students fighting after school and in one incredible incident, inside school. Last Friday morning, police say a riot broke out at Hamtramck High School during a game of dodge ball.
Detective Michael Szymanski said several of the students have been identified and will be arrested soon.
The problem isn’t just between students, police say. A number of those involved in the after-school fights are adults. On some days, officers are responding to one disturbance after another for two to three hours in the afternoon.
The students aren’t the only ones caught up in this mess. Some in the community have criticized the Police Department for being too rough on the kids and others in the community. A few minutes after last Friday’s riot in the high school, a pre-planned press conference was held at Corinthian Baptist Church over allegations that the department needs to be more sensitive to the city’s ethnic communities.
City Manager Bill Cooper said the problem with youths fighting is escalating.
“We need to take back control of our city,” he said at the press conference.
But Hamtramck School Boardmember Yvonne Myrick said Hamtramck is not alone in facing disruptive students. The problem, she said, is national.
“This didn’t happen overnight,” Myrick said. “It started when they took prayer out of school.”