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. Stringer

    Of course there's no mention of the fact that the vast majority of those committing the assaults were black.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TruthNY

    you are all correct. If you read through the entire article, there is not one mention of the word RACIST or RACISM. Why??? Because these bullies were black, so only they can cry RACIST/RACISM, nobody else. It's a sad world. The blacks really need to start looking at their own actions and worth. They need to stop acting like they were born with a chip on their shoulders and everyone owes them something. When this day happens, the world will be a much better place and they will be a better humanity entirely. If you have no respect for yourself, you have no respect for others. Their parents really need to incorporate this in their children, well guess their mothers since their baby daddies are really never around.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • bloodline

      Yes, the responsibility falls to the parents to teach them tolerance and compassion for others, but like you said many of these students are from fatherless homes with liittle stability. However, as a society we have got to stop the permissive nature towards blacks when it comes to racism. Blacks must be held as accountable as whites or any other ethnic group when they are intolerant of other racial groups.

      December 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. The_Mick

    This sort of thing doesn't happen everywhere. I taught at a public high school between Baltimore and Annapolis that is near Fort Meade, Maryland. around it live a lot of Koreans and Korean-Americans as a result of GI's marrying Koreans, their families coming too, etc. Our high school was 65% White, 35% Black and 8% Asian. There was no racism to speak of. When a multiculturalism assembly was held the kids were insulted. "Racism? We don't have that! Why don't they do one on the drug problems?" The last year I taught a Korean girl was elected homecoming queen and a Black guy homecoming king.

    December 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stevie

      You don't teach math, do you? 🙂

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

      @Stevie: ROFLMFAO, mofo!!!!!

      December 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • chokedup

      Many people fall into two groups (particularly in a military community as mentioned above) – hence the numbers will be >100%

      December 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLW

      I think the reason your students get along is because many of them are from military families. The military is a culture where race and ethnicity are less of barriers.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. James

    Why is CNN holding back information? If white students were involved, they sure would not. But since this was a black-on-Asian racism (although it could have been black & Asian racism, I don't know all the details to pass judgement about whether the Asian students had any responsibility in escalating the issue), CNN swallows its tongue. Such trash journalism...

    December 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • The churchlady

      So much racism on this thread. Racism is what it is, a demonic hatred and an equal opportunist directed toward all races! Its real aim is to attack the image of God present in each if you! Love thy neighbor isn't an option...it is a demand and a command so love thy neighbor as you love thyself!

      December 16, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. rudy

    You could legislate, teach and use any other means but discrimination would never go away whether from the dominant or subservient sections of society. But why we are all different, and we may fell safer amongst our kind, we need not marry them and vice versa but we must definately should not make each other miserable. I have found myself discrimnating or avoid association with certain segments of soiciety but it surfaces not on the ground or reason of color or race but rather on culture and behavior which I find repugnant. Asian kids, are generally, reserved, nice and sweet. Why on earth anyone would want to impede their life?

    December 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • LoL

      xenophobia

      December 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bunny

    I find it interesting that CNN decided not to mention the race of those who were being discriminatory. I think we can guess at the demographics of South Philadelphia High School, though. It's too bad that the media only wishes to portray blacks as victims, and not as the bullies that they often are.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Funbags3

    I hope the Asians families in S Philly can save up enough money to move the hell out of that school district and take their businesses with them to a nice suburban area. People who are decent, honest, study and work hard will always be welcome and treated well in MY community.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Its all about jealousy. The ones who works hard and don't whine are those who will succeed in life. Those who whines and complains are those who will not succeed in life. In this case, those whiners are stupid low life thugs who attacked decent and hardworking people. Lock up those thugs and throw those keys away.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • CT73

      @Fun: I hope that's true, but then again, some people find it easier to accept a hardworking Asian family into a community than an equally hardworking black family.

      Perhaps it's just me, but I don't think "white flight" or anything like it is really the answer. Actually, it's working and interacting WITH people from other cultures that encourages tolerance; separation just breeds stereotypes, misunderstandings, and ingroup-outgroup behaviors. However, kids like the ones in Philly didn't really have anyone to show them how to be tolerant either, because it sounds like the school system turned a blind eye to what was happening.

      Like most things, it just boils down to experience and education. It's hard to get either of those when we segregate ourselves.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. dave

    Its so sad to see what has happpened to our country since all of you left wing wingnuts took out of circulation our judeo christian ethical system. You have led this nation to ruin cuz there are no absolutes..THANK YOU so much...!!!! damn you!!!

    December 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jane

    If the violence and harrassment had been asian-on-black instead of visa vera a stop would have been put to it immediately. We are all supposed to get out and advocate when black folks are victimized yet where was the NAACP, Black Congressional Causas, Cythea McKinney, Jermiah Wright, Sharpton and Jackson when this was happening? If this was the Isrealis doing it to the Palestinians half the people I mentioned would have been denoucing it. Yet they refuse to condemn and speak out again hate crimes when the perps are black.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • tarzan

      Shouldn't it now be called the "NAABP"???? I thought they stopped calling themselves "C" after MLK got shot.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      As a African-American male I need to say honestly that there often does at times seem to be a double standard. Some in the black community are often quick to assume the role and the victim and while every situation is different, it is important to assume responsibility when you are wrong. I was raised in an area considered the "ghetto" yet i managed to prosper. Life isn't fair neither is society sometimes (racism etc.) but you have to find a way if not for yourself than for the next generation.

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

      @ Dennis – By calling yourself African-American you perpetrate the separation, why don't you just say black American? I'm European, and when i read that A-A gives me the feeling these people just arrived from Africa, which is most probably not the case in most cases... Maybe they should start saying European-Americans too?

      December 16, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Justin

    These kids are smart. Using the laws and their rights to bring about change.

    This is in contrast to using violence and abuse to fight whatever "change" they want to see in their neighborhoods.

    This is the perfect example of the "pen is mightier than the sword".

    December 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ed Ward 2

    It is best to send them all back to their native countries.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sonia

      Why don't we send you back to yours? Along with all of your ancestors?

      December 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • pk

      Good idea Ed... let's send you back to Iran.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • pkfops

      It's best that all European Americans be sent back to Europe with their christian beliefs. I agree with you 100%.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Ward 2

      Well now that you mention it fops it may be best if there is White flight to Europe and Australia.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • LoL

      i'm pretty sure australian aborigines wouldn't mind getting their land back.

      quite the sharp one you are ed.

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

      ok, which non-white dude slept with his girlfriend? i feel ed's pain.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      ed wrote: "Well now that you mention it fops it may be best if there is White flight to Europe and Australia."

      hah, and i thought you were white - silly me.

      ok, so which non-black dude slept with his girlfriend?

      December 16, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. hmmmm

    and the reason black kids weren't charged hate crimes is???

    December 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • critter

      maybe for the fact teh school did nothing to stop it? maybe for the fact it isnot just blacks who did it? maybe for the fact of the matter is a crime? are you people this ignorant?

      December 16, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jesse

    Unlike the blacks most of the time when wanting equal rights, the Asian community went about it in a civil manner and won. Asians are whites already in my opinion...they work hard and get ahead with a good education! If I was the Asian community I would pull out of the black schools (money included)...that will have an everlasting effect and let the test scores fall like a rock. As for the person who said..get rid of all the Chinese..well if you do that then who is going to continue to finance our debt and hire American workers? I applaud the Asian people for making the strides they have considering their grandparents came to this country with nothing and having only the clothes on their backs and now today...they run major companies, doctors, lawyers, etc. To this day I have not met an Asian person who WANTED to be dumb, lazy, and on Uncle Sams Stamps! Kudos to this group for finally getting their day in court and winning!

    December 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jadenfuregson

      Amen you speak the words of the gospel! Your last sentence sums it up. Read my last entry I too speak the brutal truth!

      December 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      "Asians are whites already in my opinion" You need psychiatric help.

      December 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      @laura
      laura wrote:
      "Asians[sic] are rude and condescending."

      that makes two of you - today isn't too late to get some real help, laura.

      ok, i gotta stop wasting my time with straaaaange people on the net.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ed Ward 2

    People should live with their own kind of people. Only CNN liberals and Obama who is making the US a Third World country and second rate military power are for this multiculturalism thing. It is dumbing down the country – witness the 31st place of US high school students in the latest world rankings for science. Of course that is also due to the overpaid leftist schoolmarms who make kickbacks from their fat salaries and pensions to the Democratic Party.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobrock

      You are way to cynical. Not good! Why don't you go and marry a nice Asian girl?

      December 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2190

      Yea it totally makes sense that the US ranking in education is going down because of racial mixing.......even though the people beating us in those same rankings are not all white...........idiot. Rankings are down because we have too many people like you in the country. -_-

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

      People should live with their own *kinds* of people. Only CNN liberals and Obama who *are* making the US a Third World country and second rate military power are for *multiculturalism*. It is dumbing down the country – witness the 31st place of *the* US high school students in the latest world rankings for science. Of course*,* that is also due to the overpaid leftist schoolmarms who make kickbacks from their fat salaries and pensions *for* the Democratic Party.

      ok, i edited it for ya - grammar is not your forte, i take it? way to dumb down the country, eh? you're welcome.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. bobrock

    The Asians are good at coming in quietly, marrying the white boys that can't get a normal white girlfriends, and slowly integrating – making everything Asian. I love to go to the local Fook Yoo Restaurant here. My only beef is they tend to be a bit rude.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      Yep! You're right..my wife is Asian and she loves me for who I am and not my race! I love her family and she is very successful and knows English VERY WELL. I fell in love with her in college and have been married for nearly 20 years now and 3 wonderful kids..two of whom are in college now. Not ONE time has race ever come up between us because we love each other for US and not the color of our skin. So you are wrong!

      December 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      good. that's the first step towards overcoming xenophobia. are you ready to take the next step - people are just people? too wild for ya? is your brain overloading with fresh, new ideas? good. now, double that feeling. 😉

      December 16, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
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