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. Rajiev

    People who excel in studies are being harassed and bullied in schools by the people who are not
    interested or are not capable of studying.They do not want to see other people successful in life
    because they see their future dark.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MGH

    @WhatHappened? "Allowing people from other countries to immigrate here and then dilute everything we stood for. Freedom of speech became "For English, Press 1". Educational standards dropped so "no child got left behind". The Statue of Liberty has a lot to answer for."

    Educational standards dropped when immigration was allowed? What are you smoking? How much you want to bet those kids are whipping the tails off their classmates on their SATs.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Ward 2

      Well, there is an influx of Mexican and Caribbean types and that is lowering things. The Chinese raise it a bit, but they are not super smart, just a little smart and very hard working.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      i got a few new words for ya:
      ecuadorians, ugandans, and koreans.

      blows your mind, huh? it's good for your two-dimensional gray matter.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. stevo25

    Its sad my black nation acts so ignorant today. but I can't hate them for it cuz hate doesn't fix anything. my heart goes out to them Asian students, America shouldn't be like this but we are cuz we don't know any better, one love and god bless u all just wanna broadcast another side of us black people thy u don't see anymore, peace yall

    December 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      You are right...not ALL blacks are on the wrong side of life. There are many whites out here that are just plain trash (trailer trash) and can share the blame for the problems we have in society. Every race has a group of bad apples that make every race look bad in the eyes of each other. America is a melting pot but the heat gets turned up when a FEW want to spoil it for the Majority out here who are trying to live the American dream. Living in America is tough and always will be but we didnt get where we are today by whinning about our problems all the time..we solved them and moved on! Peace to you as well.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. FuggerOff


    "Diversity" is what happened, Tom. Allowing people from other countries to immigrate here and then dilute everything we stood for."

    Where do you think your ancestors came from? If anything, Native Americans are the only people who should have any right to say what you said so arrogantly. Also, what do you think is "everything this country stood for:? Instead of feeding your mind with ignorance, you might want to hit some books and get some serious education in your head, buddy. And by the way. this article had nothing to do with white kids so your comments (and those of other fellow ignorant folks like you) had no relevance to the issue discussed in it.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aclathous

    asians dont know how to speak english. i've never met an asian in my life that can speak fluent english with an american accent. which makes me wonder why they come into america anyway

    December 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • a slozomby

      at least they try to speak english. unlike the mexicans.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2190

      You must live under a rock.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • LoL

      What backwoods rock do you live under?

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

      All your base are belong to us.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • asiankid

      'asians dont know how to speak english. i've never met an asian in my life that can speak fluent english with an american accent. which makes me wonder why they come into america anyway.

      Dear Aclathous: I strongly suggest that you abandon your cave and live in big cities like LA, New York, Washington DC or Chicago to see for yourself that Asians know how to speak and write English fluently. And why would you expect an Asian to speak English with an American accent? I dare you to read this out loud with a Chinese accent: 聋哑"与"聋

      December 16, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello

      I am a 36 year old physician. I waa born in Philly. I am board certified and make more than your and your family combined. Wanna hear me speak perfect English. I doubt you can, ,my illiterate pale friend. Hi! 🙂

      December 16, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • wolf28

      why they come into america anway. did you mean why do they come to america aclathous perhaps you are fluent speaking the english language but you are clearly unable to write in the english language

      December 16, 2010 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      psst... you're making an ugly a$$ out of yourself here.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • jazzscat

      Well, I'm Asian, I speak English fluently like Americans and have the American accent. That's what my American friends (whites and blacks) told me when I was still in the U.S. And I came to the U.S. to study, and also because I love the American civilization. I was really grateful, and still am, that I met broad minded American people there who welcomed me warmly.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. ALEX

    European-Americans should move to Europe and take European built things with them. Electricity, running water, freeways, internet, modern science and medicine.
    Unfortunately, when whites move, blacks follow them.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Ward 2

      And Asians follow them too.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2190

      To claim that modern science belongs to one race is erroneousness. Technology has been built through building up on ideas, techniques, and inventions that come from all over the world. It's a global society nowadays. There are intelligent, smart people all over the world and then there are dumb, ignorant, and bigoted people all over the world as well. Your world view is extremely simplistic and prejudiced. That type of thinking doesn't accomplish anything.

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

      yes, i'm following you right now. haha

      December 16, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. a slozomby

    where's jesse and al talking about ending racism. oh thats right its only racist if a white guy does it.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ak2190

    The reality is that many times the abused become abusers. Like we see in the black community. Many of them act as bullies now to every other race. This trend needs to be recognized and stopped instead of trying to justify it somehow. I'm glad these kids are using an intelligent and practical way to reduce racial tensions. As for the people who are complaining about immigration, this country was built upon the backs of immigrants. Don't ever forget that. With each wave of immigration, people like you sought to blame whatever group it was for the problems of the day. The Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Hispanics, each wave brought a different addition to American culture. If you're looking to go back to the 18th century when everyone was white and protestant (with black slaves), then you are welcome to build a time machine and go back. Today's world will be better off without your prejudices.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALEX

      There is a huge difference between the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese and blacks.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2190

      Is there? They were all viewed as inferior and dangerous at one point or another in history.

      December 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      Every race in America came because they wanted to except for African-Americans...they were forced by slave ships! All Asians came by boat literally; the Europeans by ship or plane; Hispanics by land; but blacks were FORCED over here to be not all of us came here willingly to be Americans!

      December 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • silvershado

      America eventually accepts those who prove themselves. The best examples being the Chinese, Italians and the Irish. - Mexicans still bring problems . . . the reason they were deported by President(s) Hoover, FDR, Truman and Ike.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neal

      yeah the Italians really proved themselves.. on Jersey Shore!!! hahaha me funny!

      December 15, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. silvershado

    No mention of the race that's endangering these much smaller students- blacks. And nothing new, though willingly ignored by the liberal media.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MS

      You should see a psychiatrist for your mental illness.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • silvershado

      And you, MS, should visit Philadelphia. Once known as The City of Brotherly Love, it's now been dubbed Killadelpphia thanks to the bruthas.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew D

      brilliant little minds stuck on stupid, this dysfunctional way of thinking you got going on here is the very reason this took place but you have not a clue like many others with this built in indifference toward people of color, ignorance is as blind as you are to the truth, the little feeling your having is guiding you to look like the creature you are lacking the wisdom of reason but slave to the lie of the feeling , just brilliant.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. secretasianfever76

    An interesting piece of ???
    I've never been to S. Philly-but from what I read and looked at from the numerous comments about it from personal, and/or responses, it makes me wonder about the area.
    Sure there will disagreements between one or more races-but if we can all to agree to disagree about things, without being physical.
    I remember the first night of boot camp down south; Ft. Jackson, SC-the last state to get rid of the Confederate flag from state capital-Columbia. The Drill Sgts. were asking if there were Yankees around and if we did not answer then they would've singled everyone of U.S. out. I raised my hand and stepped out; Well...that was the day when everyone in my assigned platoon called me, "Yellow-belly Yankee." Yup-I'm asian, stranger in a strange land and being callout in front of my peers.
    Well...the Drill Sgts. thought it would be funny to bunk me with a black southerner from New Orleans, La, who was half French/creo, quarter asian, and the rest was all other races for the next 73 days and a wake-up of hell. At first I was really worried about it cause he was heavily tattooed and sported three gold teeth in his mouth-but we got along really well and he's been my battle brother every since day one-I've even went down to see him in New Orleans, La from the North; Detroit, Michigan by train-all the way through all the southern states and back.
    Last I heard from him was two years ago-his unit deployed to Iraq and he was staying there till Christmas, 2011-his job is searching and clearing IED for the new Iraq gov't. There not a day that goes by, which I want to be sent over and be there with him...

    December 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vicknation

    good to see blacks taking on asians for a change

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

      yes, because whites taking on blacks is so out of style.

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

    I love how all my conservative friends here automatically assume that it had to be black kids and only black kids that were in on this. And then you moan and whine when liberals call you racists. Gee I wonder why?

    December 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALEX

      Your conservative friends are actually right, All perpetrators are black.

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

      They are black. And the principal who ignored their plight has been removed.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      lol, fail MS.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. ALEX

    The Irish, the Italian and the Chinese eventually proved their detractors wrong. Blacks as a group, did not.

    December 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew D

      do you have any idea how ignorant the statement is ,that none exsisting mob who is that again, those Ira terrorist as some would call them and there suporters hmm and what about the shake downs in china town, your reasoning is the reason we have this behavior , you can't see the forest for the trees due to the blind ignorance of indifference, you are the very thing you think your not , a part of the problem. sad but true,in all your getting get understanding.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lotus

    It's ashame how children of former slaves treat new immigrants wake up morons this was the same bullyin method used by ur ancestor's slave masters maybe a history recap is needed for these ignorant kids

    December 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      My friends son, a Rhodes Scholar, is now working in Korea teaching English. The Koreans hate him because he is balck. They mock him, asking him where his tail is. The "N" word has made it to Korea. The young man is miserable and can't wait to come home.

      I work in technology; a few days ago a co-worker, originally from South Korean, asked a young black female "where are you from". He assumed because she is bright and speaks English that she couldn't be a "typical black" from the United States. I work retail part-time – my co-workers, white and black, run when asians walk into the store. They are rude and condescending. Two Asian females encouraged a child to urinate in the trash can in the back of the store because the adults were too lazy and didn't want to ask directions to the restroom.

      There are two sides to every story – one side has not been presented here.

      December 16, 2010 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      so did these asians beat up those blacks (and/or whites) physically? i'm guessing not, or else it would have made into CNN in a heartbeat - that's the major difference.

      and if you disagree with me, let's do this - i'll beat you up physically for just 5 minutes, wait, just 1 minute, and you can call me the c-word, and abuse me racially without using any physical force the whole day, y'know, 24 hours; yes you can even let your child pee in a corner. deal?

      btw, i love this:
      " co-workers, white and black, run when asians walk into the store. They are rude and condescending."

      psst, your hatred is showing. 😉

      December 16, 2010 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wow

    As usual it warms my heart to see how deep racism really is. As a black woman seeing all of these blacks are lazy and stupid and victims and blah blah blah is just nauseating. You defend the victims of this article then turn around and act just as racist as these misguided bullies! Racism is a LEARNED behavior. Stop allowing your feable minds to use an example of a few or majority of ANY race to define them as a whole!

    December 15, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2190

      As an Asian woman, I agree with you completely. The stupid is definitely out trolling the internet tonight.

      December 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      i see your point. judging by many comments the majority of america is still in denial when it comes to blacks committing 'hate crime' - many are trying to understand it in their own terms, by calling the entire race "bad."

      if we truly accept that racism knows no race, i.e. even blacks can be racists, we would be standing in the light condemning such horrifying, criminal acts, and no one would be looking down on them calling them "racists" instead.

      with that being said, the kids committing such horrifying acts may be in danger of the eternal hellfire, since they do not appreciate what the maker has made - yes, even asians. the rest of the black race (or any other race for that matter) who do not commit such atrocious crime are still fine.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
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