Vandalism here greets jurors' decision in Calif.

May 01, 1992|By Bruce Reid and Peter Hermann | Bruce Reid and Peter Hermann,Staff Writers Staff writers William B. Talbott and Larry Carson contributed to this story.

Police in Baltimore County reported scattered violence last night that officials said could be attributed to anger over the verdict in the Rodney King case.

Meanwhile, several hundred students at Randallstown High School held a peaceful gathering today, saying they wanted to counter any potential disturbances related to the police-brutality case.

A similar gathering yesterday at Meade High School in Anne Arundel County resulted in two arrests after some students became unruly.

Baltimore County police said two parked cars were overturned by a group of seven to 10 youths last night just east of the Baltimore city-county line in Cedonia, in the most serious of four incidents.

A Toyota Tercel and a Honda Civic were turned on their sides and the windows of two other vehicles were shattered by youths who struck in the 5600 block of Leiden Ave. about 9 p.m., said police spokesman Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger.

Elsewhere in Baltimore County, a vandal shot out a side window on a parked car in the 300 block of Beaumont Ave. in Catonsville, and left a printed note saying, "Rodney King don't like you."

And graffiti artists spray-painted the name "King" on lamp posts and signs at Security Square Mall and at an apartment complex across Rolling Road, Sgt. Doarnberger said.

Meanwhile, at the Randallstown school today, Doreen Pettigrew, 18-year-old black senior and vice president of Students Against Racism, said, "We want to set a peaceful example."

Shortly before classes began, students held a sit-in in the school's lobby. When it was apparent the students were not going to class, Principal Jerry D. Knotts moved the group into the auditorium for an impromptu assembly.

During a discussion that lasted more than an hour, student leaders urged fellow students to write members of Congress and ask for a federal investigation of the Rodney King beating. Some speakers said registering to vote and going to the polls is another way of bringing about change in a non-violent way.

During the gathering, attended mostly by black students, several black youngsters complained about being singled out for punishment or harassment by white school administrators and police officers.

White students who spoke argued against stereotying. "All white people are not racists and all black people are not scum. $H Everybody has to remember that," said a white female.

Students said today's sit-in and the discussion that followed occurred in response to an isolated disturbance at the school yesterday, in which a white student was roughed up by several black students. Members of Students Against Racism said the incident was without question related to the King case verdict. Mr. Knotts said he was not sure the scuffle was related and that the white student was not injured.

Several students condemned yesterday's incident, saying the attackers were no better than the police who beat Mr. King, the California motorist.

Sandra Hevner, a social studies teacher, praised the students today for being "mature and responsible" during the gathering. "This school is a multi-racial school and it works. . . . I'm very proud to be a teacher here."

School officials said 54 percent of the students at Randallstown are black.

At Meade High School yesterday, students gathered in the school's gym to discuss the Rodney King verdict and the violence that followed. After some discussion, some students became angry. Finally, about 100 students refused to go to class.

Within 30 minutes, about 30 Anne Arundel County and state police officers arrived at the school. Officers arrested two students and charged them with disorderly conduct.

"We didn't want to go back to class," said Gerald Davis, a 15-year-old black sophomore. "We felt this [the verdict] is wrong and we should do something about it. . . What happened today in school was right."

The majority of students were not caught up in the demonstration. Most of the 75 to 100 students in the gym returned to their classrooms after repeated warnings from the principal.

A handful of students roamed the hallways, got into minor scuffles with administrators and overturned some desks and chairs in an empty classroom.

Renee Ryan, a 17-year-old white 11th-grader, said she saw students in the hallways and "throwing wads of paper in the classrooms. They thought it was prejudiced because of what happened in Los Angeles. They accused us of being prejudiced."

No one was injured and no classes were canceled. School administrators said the rest of the day was quiet.

Divan N. Conner, 19, of the 8300 block of Pioneer Drive, Severn, was charged with assault, accused of pushing an assistant principal after the sit-in. He also was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a school activity.

Sean W. Graves, 19, who lives at Mr. Conner's home, was arrested outside the school when he got into a scuffle with police and tried to block officers from entering the building, according to police. He was charged with disorderly conduct, interfering with a school activity and resisting arrest.

Van Hicks, a black senior, said he didn't approve of what happened. "The Rodney King decision was wrong, but that doesn't mean it's right to do what they were doing," he said. "The protesters were . . . trying to get out of classes."

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