Beverly Hills, Santa Monica students brawl; schools ramp up security for game

Beverly Hills, Santa Monica students brawl after a boys basketball game

Officials from two high-profile Westside high schools are ramping up security and requesting help from parents after a parking-lot skirmish broke out when the rivals met on the basketball court less than three weeks ago.

The preparations come as Santa Monica High School and Beverly Hills High School prepare to square off Tuesday in a matchup between the first-and-second-place teams in the Ocean League.

Video of a confrontation following the schools’ Jan. 23 basketball game surfaced recently showing students leaving the game and shouting expletives at one another in the parking lot.

Santa Monica High School students also “rushed” Beverly Hills High students who were sitting inside a car, Samohi Principal Eva Mayoral wrote in a letter to parents sent on Friday.

Despite deploying “every Samohi administrator and every available security officer district-wide …  taunting from Beverly students, and from Samohi students, sparked a fight,” she said. “The six or seven kids who were involved, were broken up by an administrator and security.

“Continued taunting in the Civic parking lot by Beverly students in a car, resulted in retaliation by some Samohi students who rushed the car and caused considerable damage to the lights and hood of the vehicle. SMPD arrived quickly and diffused the situation.”

Mayoral asked parents to keep their kids at home Tuesday "if you don't believe that your student can ignore, or refrain from, taunting.”

“If I do not believe that we can participate at Beverly safely,” she said, “I will cancel all games.” 

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker stressed that the confrontation occurred between fans, not players. She said officials are still investigating whether any involved students violated the district’s education code.

Pinsker said she was not aware of any disciplinary action taken in connection to the incident. She referred questions about arrests to the Santa Monica Police Department, which did not immediately return a call from the Los Angeles Times.

In her letter, Mayoral said she has contracted SMPD to travel with the school to Beverly Hills High for Tuesday’s game. The principal also said she has “worked with SMPD, as well as the principal of Beverly, to develop a plan to keep kids from both schools as separated as possible at the games, and establish an SMPD, and Beverly Hills PD presence as fans move to their vehicles and depart.”

Pinsker would not detail the changes planned for Tuesday’s game, but said a “heightened sense of security and support from law enforcement” would be present.

“The district supports these proactive measures to ensure the safety of students and fans from both high schools,” Pinsker said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “Student athletes have demonstrated good sportsmanship on the field and court and off, and we are looking forward to all fans from both schools enjoying good-natured school spirit with their respective peers, at all games this week and in the future."

Officials from Beverly Hills High School and the Beverly Hills Unified School District did not return phone messages from The Times.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said the department would have “additional resources assigned to the game,” but would not detail a tactical plan.

“We are working with the Santa Monica Police Department and coordinating efforts with them,” he said. “We don’t expect any problems.” 

But the school’s boys basketball coach Jarvis Turner said Beverly Hills students are sometimes the victim of socioeconomic stereotyping.

“For some reason, a lot of people don’t like Beverly Hills,” he said. “We get picked on.”

“I wouldn’t call it a rivalry,” he added. “You have two affluent areas, different kids, with different upbringings.”

Indeed, both schools’ high school newspapers wrote stories about the incident that pointed the finger across town.

"The Beverly kids got into their Mercedes sedan for safety," a Samohi student is quoted as saying in the school's online publication.

“[Sants Monica High students] were going crazy,” a Beverly Hills High student told Highlights, the school’s newspaper. “They seemed almost drunk, jumping up and down, screaming. They were violently spirited. … Samo was starting things. Samo started the fighting, 100 percent.”

Pinsker acknowledged “what should be a friendly rivalry” leaves the potential for “potentially stereotyping students."

“We don’t like comments escalating to where they are unsavory, nasty or threatening,” she said. “Unfortunately, at high schools even back in my day, there were fights.”  

Follow @MattStevensLAT for Westside coverage, the California drought and breaking news

Times staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report. 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

5:17 p.m.: This post has been updated with a comment from a Beverly Hills police lieutenant. 

12:21 p.m.: This post has been updated with comments from Santa Monica high school and other officials.

It was originally posted at 9:47 a.m.

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