Philadelphia school district agrees to measures to quell anti-Asian violence
December 15th, 2010
06:25 PM ET

Philadelphia school district agrees to measures to quell anti-Asian violence

The Philadelphia School District signed a two-and-a-half year civil rights agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to address anti-Asian immigrant violence at a Philadelphia high school.

“Schools have an obligation to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone. We will continue to use all of the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to ensure that all students can go to school without fearing harassment,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said.

The complaints were triggered by events on December 3, 2009, during which large numbers of Asian immigrant students from South Philadelphia High School were assaulted in and around the school throughout the day.

The attacks followed years of harassment against Asian students at South Philadelphia High School. In the days after the incident, more than 50 Asian students organized an eight-day boycott of the school in efforts to draw attention to what they felt was an inadequate response by the school to ongoing harassment and violence.

“We will always remember December 3, but we will refuse to be defined by that day,” Wei Chen, a senior at the time of the melee, told the members of the School Reform Commission where the settlement was announced. “A year ago we came to you as victims. Today we come to you as youth activists, as organizers and leaders who have shown the power to make change.”

Read more: Racial violence spurred Asian students to take a stand

The December boycott helped draw nationwide attention to the violence. Months later, a federal investigation was launched after a civil rights complaint was filed by the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund. The Justice Department, which announced its investigation in August, instructed the school system to improve the treatment of Asian students.

“It's precedent setting. It's putting schools across the country on notice they must proactively address harassment, and it’s a tremendous win for the students and their families,” said Cecilia Chen, staff attorney for the Asian American Legal Defense Fund.

The settlements require South Philadelphia High School to submit an anti-harassment action plan, and continue implementing policies and procedures to prevent harassment based on race, color and/or national origin.

The students are the winners, said Zane David Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“We hope that the investigation and our settlement agreement represent the start of a corrective action plan that eventually will eliminate student-on-student harassment in all Philadelphia public schools, not just South Philadelphia High School,” Memeger said.

The settlements, which hold the district responsible for implementation and oversight, resolve eight discrimination complaints alleging widespread harassment of Asian students at South Philadelphia High School.

“I am delighted to see this moving forward and I look forward to this being a lasting resolution,” said Stephen Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. “Harassment and bullying are huge roadblocks to an education for immigrants and other minority children.”

Though she is very happy about the settlement, it is a bittersweet, says advocate Helen Gym, a board member for Asian Americans United.

"This consent decree demonstrates that the violence at South Philadelphia High School was racial," said Gym, who helped many Asian students document their experiences. “We celebrate the lasting gains of these agreements. We hope that they are also welcomed with a measure of abiding humility and deep sorrow for the lack of action that required it.”

soundoff (287 Responses)
  1. really?

    It's a shame to see this type of discrimination happening these days, but unfortunately they do exist. Is America no longer considered a melting pot but rather a melting? This is not the country I grew in?

    December 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheStatueOfLiberty

      Yeah, yeah, I know, and all I can say is, I'm really sorry, guys. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ..." What in the hell was I thinking? But I really blew it with the "wretched refuse" – I didn't know so many of them could read.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Medellin

      I agree with" What Happened??", I mean really, immigration has always been a huge problem in this country. Seriously, ask any Indian. Teh pilgrims, COME ONNN!! If they did not like being put to death for their beliefs, they should have just sucked it up you know, taken one for the team. I mean rights, who thinks those should be for human beings.... right!!!!!

      December 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      I'm assuming you are Native American, WhatHappened?

      December 15, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I've grown up in America too and it is definitely a perception of change that I have seen in my life. We tend to forget that we are all from a different place and that now we call this great country home. We tend to forget the struggles of our ancestors to get us where we are and selfishly we deny the right of the other to live righteously in the eyes of man and God in the only country on Earth where opportunity to be and become is very easily possible. When I am sixty and I look back at how things have changed I would think of the changes in myself and how my life has changed from the people I meet and where I've gone. Things do not change, people do. What happened to these students are unfathomable and surely these student can now feel safe while trying to make it in this world we live in. I lastly would like to say that I AM AMERICAN. American bred and built. I am the American son born to two immigrants both uneducated who were forced by war to leave everything behind at the age of 20 to come to America. Now, when you look back, what were you doing at the age of 20? Today they are naturalized citizen of the USA and everyday they work hard in blue collar jobs to help contribute to the growth of this nation we live in. They are American, We are American and we may not communicate the same way but we all know the hard work it takes to survive here.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • a slozomby

      it ceased to be a melting pot when everyone felt they must be hypenated-amercians.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Melting pot is a crock of crap these days. there must be a milliiom different enclaves in this country, whom despise the people in the other enclaves

      December 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      Immigration should actually be encouraged, but just not the illegal kind. It benefits a society as a whole to have more intelligent and hard-working people.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      WhatHappened?, the only language I know in America is the language of hardwork.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CNN are hypocrites

      What I don’t understand is in the article it does not explain that it is the black students who are doing the abuse. If this was a situation that white kids were causing the bullying, it would be all over the article. Why is CNN being such hypocrites?

      December 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      Many people in America today are being brainwashed by Fox News and others to 'fear the other'... the person who is not the same skin color as them, the person who is not the same religion as them, etc.
      When that happens, you get a lot of violence very quickly against 'the other' that the news organizations that I named are creating.

      That is the main reason why I think that Faux News needs to be shut down, or made to adhere to their 'fair and balanced' mantra a lot more than they are right now.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Why Whites are not hyphenated like all other Americans ? They should be. They came from Europe.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      They need to print the face and name of the students and their parents who were responsible for the harassment. When a parent raises a child and knows that the child is a reflection of their parental upbringing then the violence will stop. The violators and their parents should then have to do community service.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • not an american

      we are human,
      and we are animal too, and are territorial too..
      it seems sad today that as a species we are not growing and are spiralling around. this will eventually mean extinction of our species if we dont evolve from here.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      CNN was very careful not to mention what was made clear in the original article, to which there is a link in this article. The perpetrators were a group of black children. Had they been white, CNN would not have ceased to mention it. Where is the NAACP now? I attended inner city schools all of my life, without hearing a white student so much as make racist comments, but the bullying of whites by black students simply for being white was an ongoing, daily problem. Black students could parade the halls, yelling epithets at everyone, spouting verbal white hate, and the administrators turned the blind eye and deaf ear. I was married to a black man for 8 years, and he blamed the White Man for his woes – even troubles he brought on himself, not even stopping at accusing me of racist conspiracy against him. I saw and heard the anti-white (and anti any other ethinicity...) vitriol continue at the black church he attended. When will leaders in the black community stand up and call out and condemn this overt hypocrisy?

      December 16, 2010 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Homer Simpson

    so very true, people dont like where our country is headed, usually are in undesirable situations and are mad, and are looking for someone to blame, i personally would like to see a independent party uprising, not teabaggers but common man representation, one can dream.

    December 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Just because you don't agree with "Teabaggers" does not meanthat you should not support their right to rise up. Their protest is as much against the Neo-Con movement and accessive spending in the Republican party a it is against liberalism in America. My guess is it was spurned by a few online sites that explained how much a policy was going to cost each tax payer. Before that information was not known and it allowed politicians to spend our country into oblivian. Those days are over. You may not like the "Teabaggers", but America needs them if they are going to survive, just look at what is happening in Europe and you will see what runaway progressive policies will get you. High taxes, low economic growth, high unemployment and their governments are still going bankrupt. That is the future I want for myself and my kids.

      December 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • yellowman

      that party of reason and common sense you are looking for is the libertarian party

      December 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherm

      Sorry John. The Teabagger movement was started by media and lobbyists. The one goal was to elect more Republicans, and it was successful. I think "Homer" was talking about an independent movement.
      In Europe there is a social safety net and more equality and education than what we have here. Most European economies, such as Germany, are doing great. England has a smaller economy than we do that is why they have to cut their budget. Italy and Greece have corruption. Here in the US we spend a great deal of money but we don't see it. It goes to defense companies instead of to hospitals and universities. We haven't had to tighten our belt yet because we have such a huge economy that we can borrow to fund out war habit. Europe can learn a few things from us, and we can learn a few things from Europe.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ***dude***

    Stixx? will you meet your maker one day? will you? is hate your legathy?

    December 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stixx

      ummmm, yeth.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    @stixx. You are a black gay man. You can join the army now, chump.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jersey Boy

    It was interesting to me that there was no mention of what group or race was perpetuating these stupid crimes. My guess is that if the racist attacks were perpetuated by white kids, it would have been all over the national news and CNN.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Uh...hello....South Philly, it was blacks.

      December 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      ...attacks on about 50 Asian students, injuring 30, primarily at the hands of blacks. This is from an article last january. google it....it was blacks.

      December 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funbags3

      Everyone should also google (Queen) Arlene Ackerman.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLW

      Jersey boy wake up...... it was blacks perpetrating the racism. Imagine that!

      South Philadelphia High School is 64.6 % Black and 6.3 % White

      December 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLW

      I apologize Jersey Boy. I misread your comment as I think some others did. You were saying if it were whites it would have been a big story, but since it was blacks it was not covered.

      My bad.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • blursd

      Right, because South Philly has about as many white people as Compton ... I think statistically the odds are it was another racial group, but we all know ONLY white people can be racist and discriminate (heavy sarcasm included).

      December 16, 2010 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • cjbigcat

      As a white male, we have passed that prejudice torch onto our fellow black citizens. When will it stop? My guess is after the asians it will be the Mexicans. Only then will it be justified.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. alfonds

    Hello stixx

    December 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zoomzom

    Lot of hispanic kids are harrased in schools around the country and they finally drop out or lag behind. It is shameful that one minority while crying for their own civil liberties will take away the right and liberties of other minorities. Where are all those raverns and ministers, did cat got their tongue now.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alfonds

    stixx my granny was Black and ny pappy was san vadoreon–do u hate me?

    December 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLW

      "There's just something about him. Something around the eyes, I don't know, reminds me of... me. No. I'm sure of it, I hate him." – Doc Holliday

      December 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ryan

    @really?
    >Is America no longer considered a melting pot but rather a melting? This is not the country I grew in?
    Blacks and Asians have never gotten along. Nothing new in this latest incident.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • shak

      the reason blacks 'n asians don't get along is the asians, at least those kids' parents who came from asian countries like china, taught them "black people look like monkeys". i'm telling that from my personal experience.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Actually you're right Shak. People always go on about issues between whites and blacks (largely because of the obvious history of slavery), but I also happened to know that a lot of Asian and middle-eastern people are rather racist (or uneasy/discriminating/etc) towards black people as well. They just tend not to mix much with blacks, hence why you don't hear about it (and also because whites are supposed to be the big bad racists).

      December 16, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Insom

      Re: Shak’s comment (and, generally speaking)… to some degree, you are correct. I went to public schools in inner-cities and was exposed to a very diverse student body; I also had a lot of friends from different cultures and ethnicities. Some ‘Asian’ parents do discriminate against Blacks, and unfortunately that discrimination is taught to their children. However, not ALL Asians (immigrants and non-immigrants) believe, or, are taught such stupidity.

      If we’re talking about personal experiences, I was raised to treat everyone equally. My parents are Asian immigrants; however, they are very welcoming of all people. We lived in a predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood and my family got along well with everyone. This was not the same case for us in school; my brother and I were ‘picked on’ constantly by Black students. My brother especially was harassed and assaulted a few times, even had his shoes stolen once after school. I believe we were picked on because we are Asian, and, I feel that Black students felt that we were submissive and would not speak up or defend ourselves.

      One of the biggest problems I see is that everyone generalizes, and that generalization leads to hatred, fear, etc. Out of fear, generalization, hatred… comes abuse, whether verbal or physical. There’s also the issue that – when a person is beaten down, they need to lash out, and that lashing out is often directed at someone they believe they can dominate. This applies to everyone. Look at men who abuse women, parents who abuse their children, etc. It’s an unfortunate outlet.

      My other thoughts on ‘minority on minority’ discrimination are that there’s a central root to all of this. I believe that America (those with wealth, power & prestige) has pivoted minorities against each other. The media and politicians portray Blacks as ‘scary’ people who causes evil onto others; at the same time, it’s portrayed Asians as the ‘model minority’ which has caused resentment against Asians. Unfortunately, so many feed into all this garbage… instead of working together for equal rights for ALL… we’re working against each other… divide and conquer.

      Whether Blacks, White, Asians, Hispanics, etc. we’re all the same. I have more in common with some of my Black and Hispanic friends, whom I also consider family, than I do with other Asians and even my own relatives. I believe that we’re not at all different… we made a choice to be different, to belong because that’s what we were taught.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • eskalon

      Racism does not have to be inherited or taught, it can develop due to personal experience. My family is asian, and my father has been a rather extreme racist since his early teens. Shortly after his family came to the US he was beaten within an inch of his life by a group of black students in the Jr. High bathroom for being a 'chink'. He never fully recovered from the experience, and is until today openly uncomfortable around people who are black. I was lucky to grow up in a different time, and with a very diverse group of friends–and while I often don't agree with my father's racism I find it difficult to fight with him about it. After all, I can't say that I would be strong enough to not become a racist if the same experience had happened to me.

      There is a cycle of racism that exists among many minority groups that is entirely underreported by the media. All the violence against Koreans during the Rodney King riots is never mentioned, but the racial rift that it caused continues to drive deep feelings of distrust between both sides. Yes, it is clear that blacks in this country continue to face discrimination and that is a horrible thing, but racism affects people of many other ethnicities as well. The NAACP has continuously refused to work with other minority groups to improve civil rights legislation, as though they are the only legitimate victims of racism. This stance is unfair and only serves to undermine civil liberties for all Americans.

      December 16, 2010 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. ALEX

    What did you expect from CNN, Jersey Boy? CNN is as CNN does. The perpetrators of violence were black. Everybody knows it in Philadelfia.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Davey Jones

    The assailants were black. So were the school staff who stood and watched. Philadelphia is about as white as Detroit.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. yellowman

    with a 70% black student population at this school, I guess the lessons of their parents and grandparents have been lost on these kids

    December 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George

    Black culture in America is low, very low, and doesn't seem to move forward, much like the cultures of African nations.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • BlackIsBeautiful

      Yeah, but at least we can jump and dance.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Actually.. black culture has advance significantly. It's just ironic that whenever we hear about black violence we associate all blacks to be losers. Just like when we hear about some nut wannabe terrorist and we assume all muslims are after us. The media plays with our emotions and fears and thus they can sway us this way or that. Turn off the TV and internet for a few months then go outside. You'll see the world isnt as scary as they make it to be. Honest.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      "Yeah, but at least we can jump and dance."

      lol!! You made my day.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • The churchlady

      @George, disappointed to see your back woods mentality is not only without merit but has not moved forward either!

      December 16, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew D

      you live in a very small space my friend

      December 16, 2010 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. cat

    This isn't the world I grew up n either. :(

    December 15, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      and how did you survive the era of the KKK? that was way scarier than this.

      things will get better - trust me.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
    • cjbigcat

      Now it's easier to come out of your closet and say your gay?

      December 16, 2010 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. pkfops

    The reason that blacks are biased against asians is because the Asians will move into depressed areas of a community, invest in it and make it thrive. Oakland Ca Chinatown is a great example.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLW

      I think the reason blacks are against Asians is that they are afraid someone will replace them as the #1 minority in America. That and the fact that they hate anyone who is not black. They make racist comments about other groups all the time whether they are Asian, Latino, or white. Blacks are haters.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
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