Fight at East St. Louis food stamp office posted on YouTube

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 24 at 7:50 PM

EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Police are investigating after video was posted on YouTube showing several women getting into a fight at the Illinois Department of Human Services in East St. Louis on Tuesday.

According to officials, the women involved had been waiting to get food stamps when the fists started to fly.

The nearly three-minute video, which was recorded on a cell phone, shows at least four women fighting at the office located at Missouri and 9th.

Watch the video below or click here to see it on YouTube

Two women can be seen holding onto each other as a third punches one of them in the back of the head.

At one point, one of the women walks across the office and punches another in the face.

Security officers did their best to end the brawl, but it took them several minutes before they separated the group and restored order.

Some of those involved in the fight initially refused to leave.

Several people at the DHS office told News 4 it was easy to see how tempers can boil over because clients can sometimes wait for a couple hours.

“If you’re not upset, you’ll be upset leaving up out of there,” said Jenine Nixon. “You straight have to have love in your heart to stand there all day.”

”That’s why people get frustrated because it takes so long, standing in line,” added Angela Montgomery. “Then you have to sit down and still wait, and wait.”

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks is looking into the possibility of adding metal detectors at the office.

Meanwhile, DHS officials say the agency takes security very seriously and will make changes to security if necessary. But they said they could not change the conditions that may have led to this week’s brawl.

“Over the years our staffing levels have gone down while the need for public assistance has skyrocketed,” said DHS spokesperson Januari Smith.

Smith said they were looking at whether the office had adequate security.

“We are in the midst of an in depth security assessment and I’m sure that assessment will answer that question,” she said.

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