Reading leaders outraged by after-school brawls

Author: , Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published: Mar 28 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 29 2013 06:46:58 PM EDT
Reading brawl

City leaders are speaking out after a teenager was sent to the hospital following several wild brawls in the streets of Reading.

Shock and awe were the reaction from city council members and the mayor after they watched video of the fights on Wednesday.

"It's scary for the kids, it's scary for residents," said Councilwoman Donna Reed.

Shock turned to outrage after learning 75 to 100 teenagers cheered as students threw punches and tackled one another to the ground.

"I was really horrified that that type of violence can occur anywhere, and that young people are putting themselves at risk," said Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz.

Mayor Vaughn Spencer called the fights unacceptable and said he's concerned the teenagers' behavior has been glorified on Facebook and YouTube.

"It's going to have to be a community discussion because there is parents involved, and neighbors are concerned as to what's taken place in front of their properties," said Spencer.

Students told 69 News the massive melees after school were fueled by an on-going turf war. In particular, north side vs. south side.

"The question, are you safe in your own home really becomes a major question when this kind of gang and mob activity is occurring right outside your front door?" asked Reed.

"They need to be able to look at how to respect their turf and how to use them productively, rather than fighting over them and causing violence," said Goodman-Hinnershitz.

Since students were armed with 2-by-4's, baseball bats, bricks and bottles, Councilman Stratton Marmarou called on the cops.

"You must add police. I don't care where you find the money. We may have to up taxes, but we need to find more money to put more people out on the street," said Marmarou.

Spencer said he plans to meet with school district officials, including the superintendent, to curb the violence and prevent something like this from happening again.