Hundreds of people recently rallied behind Christina Lu, the teen victim of a racially motivated attack on a SEPTA train in early November, and called on city leaders to increase public safety in Philadelphia.
What happened: Lu, 18, addressed a crowd of hundreds outside the Municipal Services Building in Center City on Tuesday. She recalled the assault, wherein her attackers kicked her, punched her, and smashed her head onto the train door as she tried defending her fellow Asian American Central High School students, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- “Our message is loud and clear — we must all come together, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status, because we all want the same thing for our community: public safety in the City of Brotherly Love,” Lu said.
- Many attendees were reportedly carrying signs with messages such as “Stop school bullying,” “SEPTA Clean Up Or Shut Up” and “Justice for Christina Lu.”
- Lu said her classmates tried to shield her with their bodies as the other teens continued attacking her, but this was not shown in the viral video of the assault. The teen claimed that the male victims “were just scared kids” and that she “only wanted to de-escalate the problem so that nobody would get hurt.”
- Although many have called her a hero for standing up against the bullies, Lu doesn’t consider herself to be one. “I’m just an ordinary girl from an ordinary family who saw people in need of help, and so I tried to help,” she said during her speech.
- Her attackers were eventually taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.
Demand for action: Executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation John Chin, who also attended the rally, had called on the Philadelphia School District and SEPTA to address their failures in keeping the students safe.
- Although the incident happened outside of school grounds and after school hours, school district spokesperson Monica Lewis said Central High School principal Timothy McKenna informed parents and the community that he would do his best to make them feel “safe and welcome in their schools.”
- “For too many years, we have been too quiet,” Stephanie Sun, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Asian Pacific Affairs, said. “This is the time for us to wake up, step up.”
Other details: A mother of one of the attackers had tried to reach out to the victims’ families to apologize for what her 12-year-old daughter did to them, NBC10 reported. She also noted that her daughter had run away from home two weeks before the violent attack.
- “I was extremely hurt, and this is why I needed to meet with you guys publicly so that you know that my family is very sincerely apologetic about what happened to that child because we all pray that our children make it home safe from school,” the mother said. “I want them to know you all don’t have to be afraid of us. My daughter did not mean it. When she gets the opportunity to, she will give a sincere apology.”
- The mother also added that her daughter is Muslim. “We do not carry ourselves that way,” she said. “We carry ourselves with respect, modesty and humility.”
- In a message to the attackers, Lu said he hoped the incident would serve as a lesson. “Because I know that they’re just kids and they have a great future ahead,” she told CBS Philadelphia.
- Students can now request to be accompanied by police officers as they travel home from school, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel told reporters.
- “The benefit of this is the officer can start to get to know the kids because we’ll have the same officer there,” he said. “We’ll have an officer on a train full of kids that’s coming from Central and going to South Philly. That starts today.”