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. Baltimore

    "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."

    Too bad the gay kids and the handicapped are still SOL

    December 16, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. wormwood

    the more some people write,
    the more it becomes apparent now that racism is not just a white-on-black thing.

    so this is way cool - i'm hoping that the entire nation will be affected by some people's ugly hearts. y'see, unlike these people, i go beyond the looks and the skin color - what some of you say out of your hearts are some of the ugliest things i've ever seen.

    keep it coming!

    December 16, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. 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 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. bloodline

    Most of those Asian students will go on to successful careers in science and technology while the black RACISTS attacking them will end up contributing nothing to society except more black babies with no father in the home.

    December 16, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. ProtoMan

    I grew up in a 99% white middle class neighborhood. I'm white and I was raised in a fairly decent home. I can honestly say that most of the kids in my neighborhood were spawn of the Devil. You couldn't tell their parents their child was a problem either, because they'd never believe it. "Not my David!". It's a glaring problem in this country. Kids are being raised by MTV, BET, Playstation, XBox, and Hollywood. 2pac used to complain the white man was after him when all he needed to do was alter his behavior. Everyone knows the ugly history of America, but most people who fail in life have done so because they put no effort into anything. Yes there are white thugs too who act tough when they are among their friends too. Stupid lazy parents are to blame. We need to start charging parents for accessories to crimes their kids commit. Perhaps you'd see a few wake up. Respect for others is not being taught. We don't need another racial summit to make parents do their jobs because you'd ignore the other problems.

    December 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Richard in Texas

    Racism is taught at home and cannot remedied by the legal system.

    @26 Dave

    Don't give thanks to left wing wingnuts. Thank the founding fathers. Remember separation of church and state? I am being facitious. Morals and ethics are taught at home. To co-opt your phrase it is right wing wingnuts that are teaching kids to think racist. With comments like blacks are just looking for a hand out. Or hispanics are lazy. Left wing wingnuts make comments like can't we just get along or I see people not color. Look in the mirror Dave.

    December 16, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Richard in Texas

    I applaud these kids. The did it the right way. They did it with their voice and not by violence

    December 16, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Richard in Texas

    You really have no clue what you are talking about. In your mind you are speaking Shakespear but the rest of the world you sound like a racist extremist.

    December 16, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. mulan

    i have been taunted and threatened with violence by random black teenagers on several occasions. i have even considered buying a gun due to these experiences. however, the two black americans in my college engineering program were very nice and quiet, probably because they were educated. i have never experienced any racial problems at school.
    asians are such easy preys of violence because many don't or can't stand up for themselves.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mulan

      p.s. i'm also very fortunate that my high school, college, and graduate school were all prestigious and filled with smart and civilized people.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ProtoMan

    Go to a California rave and you'll see lots of dysfunctional drugged up asians. Stereotypes good or bad do nothing to further race relations. I had a mandarin friend who couldn't kick drugs and I can assure you he wasn't too bright. China had a major opium problem a while back. People are blank slates when they are born into this world. I notice that many modern immigrants take full advantage of the American social programs while people born here (including myself for a while) only see free food and shelter. Poor people get free education, food, shelter and health care, yet people keep buying into the idea that this country is unfair. It's only unfair because people don't want to work for success. Just my opinion.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mulan

      please, the opium war is an entirely separate matter.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • LoL

      Some of what you're saying is true. Just note that china fought two wars against England to stop British imports of opium. China lost and england kept flowing the smack. Read a book before you make erroneous assumptions.

      December 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. brian d

    Yep typical blacks they earn their n word everyday and thats y i try to inconvience them as much as possible i even splashed the hell out some just the other day w some nasty slush i gotta say it was pretty awesome lmao

    December 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LC17

    After reading this, I really wonder which racial group was taunting the Asians. The first racial group that came to my mind was the African Americans. Now, I am not being a racist. It is just an experience that I had also gone through when I was younger. The African Americans pulled my hair, called me by racial slurps, and etc. It really made me feel that the racial group was black.
    Also, this is not a surprise news that the Asians of all ages are always being picked on and being teased by. This is happening to the young and the elders. If you research on Asian bias in NYC, African American middle school kids have taunted elders for money, spit at them, and caused irrational violence. This had happened to my mother and aunt in broad daylight in front of people and no one did anything to help them.
    I really applaud these high school students that are taking actions against those who are doing injustice to them. It is about time Asians step up and speak their mind.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • vcpusd

      gee let's talk about school districts harasssing parents about 5 dollars they owe for their children's "lunch". Yes, certain schools, as in VCPUSD in California, have an "automated" message, which in many cases, calls the parent's home up to 6-8 times a day, reminding parents, their child "owes 5.00," or in one case, "50 cents" for the child nutritional lunch program. Wow. Now that's a case of bullying and harrassment we aren't hearing about. Get a life school district. Send the parents a notice in mail, quit bothering people at home about such trivial matters. Unbelievable. These schools will hound parents for a lousy 50 cents, but they don't notice kids bullying each other at school, smoking pot in bathrooms, carrying knives or guns. Idiots.

      January 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jersey Boy

    MLW, thanks for getting my message. I think I was being a little too subtle. Seems like the vast majority of people posting are asking the same obvious question which basically comes down to why aren't black racists identified and held accountable. And the simple answer is the liberal media does not think that inconvenient truth would be politically correct.


    December 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
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