Around 300 community members, including parents, rallied against bullying after a father was arrested for protecting his 13-year-old son from a violent attack.
The assault: The incident began with a scuffle over a basketball game in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 28. Brian, the 13-year-old boy, was with friends when an argument between his friends and another group of students, including two brothers, occurred over a game. The two brothers attempted to join the game and called a family member for support, leading to the arrival of Hassan Saab, a 24-year-old man, who brutally assaulted Brian.
Video footage captured Saab punching and kicking the teen as he lay on the ground, while another bystander attempted to intervene. According to police, Brian said that Saab kicked him in the head, resulting in his head hitting a fence. Another 13-year-old boy stated that Saab had punched him in the chest and neck, causing pain and redness. After the alleged assault, Saab reportedly left the scene in a black sedan.
Saab shows up to Brian’s house: Two days later, Saab showed up to Brian’s doorstep with a group armed with baseball bats yelling anti-Asian slurs, according to Brian’s father, Ting Duo Lei. Lei reportedly armed himself with a shovel and broom, resulting in a violent confrontation.
Lei claimed that Saab struck him over the head with the weapon, causing a laceration. He was transported to the Lutheran Medical Center for treatment.
Arrests and charges: Saab faces charges that include assault, criminal possession of a weapon, acting in a manner injurious to a child, disorderly conduct and harassment. Lei was also charged with assault after Saab reported that he had been hit with a shovel, causing bruising to his right arm.
The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
The rally: On Wednesday, hundreds filled the streets in Bay Ridge outside of P.S. 264 in support of the Lei family. Community members are calling for the charges against Lei to be dropped, for maximum charges against Saab and for the students involved to be expelled.
They also emphasized the need to address anti-Asian attacks, with concerns that the case is not being investigated as a hate crime. Local leaders and parents are demanding the safety of children and a quality education in schools.
“Today it happened to their family, but tomorrow it could happen to my family,” said Jim Zhen, a father from Williamsburg, according to the New York Post.
State senator’s support: State Senator Iwen Chu has pledged support for Brian’s family, emphasizing that children’s safety cannot be compromised.
“One thing needs to be very clear — our children’s safety cannot be compromised,” Chu said. “This behavior needs to face the consequences.”
Saab and his lawyer have not provided immediate comment on the situation.