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. on notice

    So has the NAACP come out to say that they do not condone violence against anyone because of their ethnicity? Well actually they have, but very quietly. Just enough to fight claims that the organization did nothing at all, but not enough to get any sort of media coverage. It is only when the NAACP is fighting for civil liberties for their own group that it asks for solidarity among all ethnicities, it is only then that Asians and Latinos are also considered Americans and it is acknowledge that they face racism as well. In all other cases Asians and Latinos are accused of being foreigners stealing better college placements, jobs, and homes from 'real' Americans.

    You can't have it both ways. The NAACP needs to either fight for the rights of all Americans or acknowledge that is functions essentially as a lobbying group for one particular faction of society.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. michrants

    Christopher: The attackers were all high school blacks. Do you really think they have been watching Fox news in their spare time?

    CNN: Why did you leave out that the attackers were black? Seems like if you identify the victim's ethnic group you should identify the thugs as well.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. RJobert

    What the article doesn't have is the fact that the students doing the harassing of the asian students were all black.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |

    Well I don't know about the Asians in Penn. but down here I can understand their discontent. Those damn Asians take school way too serious making all those good grades and blowing the curve for everyone else on tests scores.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
    • nordicmetalhead

      I did the same thing as well down here in high school. And, BTW, I'm black.

      December 16, 2010 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. okiedokiecow

    Nowhere in the article does it state that the Asian kids were the victims of black racism. Blacks specifically targeted and singled out Asians for this treatment. If it were a group of whites who had done this , that would be pointed out.

    This silly notion that blacks are not racist and cannot be racist needs to stop. They are and they are. And the past has nothing to do with it. You do not get a free pass and eventually black people, the rest of us will start pushing back.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Buck

    Hilarious article! Not once does it mention the race/ethnicity of the perps! That's because they're black racists; full of hate.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    @Zee: Good point. The NAACP could care less about Asians, while the very group they support is the culprit. They stand up for justice and fairness, but they apply that rule only to one race. How pathetic.

    December 16, 2010 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. FvB

    As the son of immigrants ( Western European, Holland specifically) I was born and raised in THIS country. I am proud to be an American, period but it wasnt easy.
    I and my family were constantly harrassed and I was picked on and beaten up quite regularly. Even after being whipped with a heavy chain and having my face slapped with baseball cleats (because the "foreign" knd wasnt allowed to cross the street) the cops did nothing. So when I hear all this "melting pot" B.S. it gets me a little angry. Thei nations ceased being a melting pot shortly after WW2. We were discriminated against and terrorized and NOTHING was done to help or protect my family. You make yourself what you are and you are responsible for your own success. I speak three languages and I work for a Fortune 100 company and I make a great home for my family. The ones doing the beating and terrorizing are either in jail, dead or living in poverty. So I guess you need to suck it up and get on with your life and do the best you can. Success in the face od adversity is the sweetest revenge.

    December 16, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Roger

    I love Asian. Whenever I can I get the Cream of Sum Yung Gai.

    December 16, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. nordicmetalhead

    Whille I applaud the actions of the resistance-style activism of the Asian students, will that ultimately stop the harassment? I think the concern should be to address, perhaps even, to mediate this issue because while empowering the Asian students is important, empowering them does not protect them from harassment. Mediation, dialogue, and the appropriately-placed last-result method of kicking their bullying a** just might.

    December 16, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Philly Resident

    This article is very misleading in who is doing what, and by the comments on this board I would say that most of the people here are making assumptions that simply aren't true. These Asian students are being targeted by black students, not white ones, which is the default race when race isn't mentioned.

    December 16, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jayman

      Why is it if a black person does something racially it's okay, but if it's a white person or any other race it's wrong?? I'm sick of it. Can't wait for Jesse Jackson to come up with something to defend the black students who committed these violence

      December 16, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • PA resident

      That is not true. I personally experience the abused by white students as well when I went to the High School in Philly.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Sally Li

      Philly Resident: what you said IS true. PA resident: You get an A+ in political correctness, and an F in English grammar and composition, and an F minus in constructing a logical syllogism and reporting truthfully.

      December 16, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Grob Hahn

    If the article is about racism, why did they totally dance around the race that was doing all the racist harassment? Why do we continue to "cover" for the obvious problem WE have created by looking the other way for decades? America taught blacks they can do what they want in social situations and nobody will hold them accountable. For that we have this kind of situation. We spent decades teaching everybody to accept blacks but taught blacks nothing about accepting people different from themselves. An article like this only adds to the problem instead of bravely stating it.

    December 16, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • creigh3

      They probably should have written the article a little more like this:

      December 16, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • randy owens

      I could'nt have said it better, well put!

      December 17, 2010 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. George

    Black culture in America is an absolute fail. Do you see white people moving "into" black neighborhoods? No sir you do not.
    When you see blacks move into white neighborhoods, the values go down and down and down, crime goes up and up and up. This sounds like old bigoted stereotyping, but the truth is in the facts.

    December 16, 2010 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • love

      If it sounds like old bigoted stereotyping, then it is.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Hey George, you obviously don't know much about african-american culture. Don't believe everything you read or see in the media. There is a whole progressive culture out there that would put your premise to shame. There are millions of blacks in this country accomplishing their goals and dreams. Just check out the colleges, workforce, politics etc. I can guarantee you myself as well as all my siblings and friends have more education, own homes, and contribute to the overwhelming society as a whole. As for whites moving into black neighborhoods, have you ever heard of gentrification? Do a little research and you will find that whites are moving into black neighborhoods by the thousands. You sir are ill-informed!!

      These racial attacks on Asians by Blacks are just another learned behavior that continues to terrorize our society. Any way you put it rasicm is rasicm and just because one minority subjegates anothers doesn't negate the fact that the overwhelming racial bigotry is still performed by caucasions. Have a blessed day!!

      December 16, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Sally Li

      When whites or Asians move into neighborhoods which have become predominantly black, they are always subject to ethnic harassment, constant intimidation, de facto imprisonment in their own homes and businesses and cars, and serious threats of violence on a daily basis – which the news media will never cover. They are too busy Holderizing the situation, and overreporting on very insignificant and nonviolent incidents which occur in the suburbs.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Green Teeth

    I thought Asians were really good at karate. Whats up with that?

    December 16, 2010 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • wormwood

      sadly, it's just another stereotype. i wish it were true.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Sally Li

      Karate only works on wooden boards – not on Boards of Education

      December 16, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      They were outnumbered 1to20, Karate is not going to help. Pls don't confuss with what on TV. I don't like to say this "most of Anti-Asian" are coming from BLACKS. Black should remember what happened to them in 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. They should not do this to other people (races). I think they are very jealous that Asians are more successful than them. Well Blacks can be successful too by cracking the books instead hanging around the corners all the times. All Asians out there study hard and stay in school no matter what. We will show them who the boss of the USA.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. mat

    Because cnn failed to mention the race of those responsible for the attacks its safe to assume its blacks. If it was whites it would be in the headline. Another form of racism and the left is once again covering up if not making excuses for the pitiful state of africans morality and standards in society.

    December 16, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick San Diego

      Your problem is, that you see EVERYTHING as LEFT, if it does'nt coincide with your thinking.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
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