It's time to go back to school in Murrieta, California -- a sleepy Inland Empire commuter town in southwest Riverside County -- and most high school kids have to deal with normal freshman jitters.
But, if you're African American, you may have a lot more to be worried about.
Local papers are reporting a disturbing racially charged attack on a young black student:
The Californian: Three arrested in race fight
The problem started about 8:45 a.m. when a black student and a Latino student were playing basketball. A 17-year-old white student watching on the sidelines yelled a racial insult at the black student, Vrooman said. A teacher intervened and sent the three to the principal's office.
The white student's 14-year-old brother and a 16-year-old white friend went to the office to find out what was happening with the older brother but were turned away, Vrooman said. The two walked out of the office and immediately challenged a nearby black student, he said.
The black student tried to walk away, but the two pushed him to the ground and punched and kicked him, he said.
The Press-Enterprise: School accused of racial ills
On Wednesday morning Sam Farr, 16, who is black, suffered bruises and cuts when he was attacked by two white teen-agers outside the principal's office. Sam went to a San Diego chiropractor Thursday after complaining about a sore back and neck, said his mother, Crystal Farr.
Police arrested two white students, 14 and 16 years old, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime. Fists and feet can be considered deadly weapons. A third student, 17, was arrested on suspicion of uttering words likely to provoke a fight. [...]
At around 7:45 a.m. Pierre [Rhodan] was playing a basketball game in the gymnasium when he complained that another student, who is white, wasn't playing fairly. The 17-year-old allegedly used a racial slur in speaking to Pierre, police said.
Pierre brought the issue up with a teacher, who sent the students to the principal's office. As Pierre and the 17-year-old were in the office, the 17-year-old's friends waited outside.
When Sam walked by, the two allegedly punched him and then kicked him when he fell to the ground. Sam did not know Pierre nor his attackers, police said.
The two brothers have been identified in the Press-Enterprise as Saege and Dylan Hall. Their father, Mark Hall, defends his sons:
A Murrieta father whose 14-year-old son was arrested in connection with the beating of a high school freshman this week said his son is innocent of the accusations against him.
"He is a marshmallow type of kid. He's not a fighter," Mark Hall said of his son, Saege, who was booked into juvenile hall along with a 16-year-old after the attack Wednesday on 16-year-old Sam Farr on the grounds of Murrieta Valley High School.
Well, I guess he defends one of his sons -- by saying he's a wimp, or something. His other son, Dylan, is defiant:
Meanwhile, Saege's 17-year-old brother, Dylan, who was also arrested that day on suspicion of uttering threats likely to provoke a fight, denied the accusations against him. [...]
All three students who were arrested face possible expulsion.
"I have every right to graduate," said Dylan, who is in his senior year. "I'm getting cheated."
The police are pretty sure what happened, though:
Police allege that Sam did nothing to provoke the attack, and that he was targeted because he is black.
Arresting Officer Steve Combre said he had spoken to four or five witnesses at the scene, including a teacher, whose accounts of what happened were consistent.
"The facts speak for themselves. It'll come out in court," Combre said Friday.
Community response toward Sam Farr, the young man attacked by strangers only because of the color of his skin, has been encouraging -- the school's student leaders have offered to help him, showing that there's a desire to heal the wounds at Murrieta Valley High.
But the focus may be on Pierre Rhodan, the first black student -- the one who was called a "nigger" on the basketball court -- because his family has had problems with their neighbors and accused Murrieta police of harassment, including filing lawsuits against the city for forcible blood withdrawal.
Such focus is misguided, and effectively puts one of the victims on trial -- or at least, his dad. The true focus here needs to be on the young man, Sam Farr, who was beaten for no reason at all, save that he was the same color as Pierre Rhodan.
Murrieta, California is right smack in the middle of a very conservative part of the state, with high Republican content and Calvary Chapel attendance. It also has a vile undercurrent of racism and white supremacism just below the surface. Decent people of all colors in the Temecula valley need to stand together to eradicate this violence within our community.