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Asian students attacked by group of teens on SEPTA train in Philadelphia, suspects to face charges

SEPTA train
Asian Students Harassed on SEPTA Train

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    Philadelphia police are investigating an attack on a male student believed to be Asian or Asian American on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train.

    What happened: The incident occurred on the Broad Street Line near Erie Station at around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, according to FOX29. A video of the brutal attack is now circulating on social media.

    • The widely shared video shows the attackers verbally and physically assaulting a teenage male freshman from Central High School. A female senior student who appears to be Asian or Asian American then comes into the shot and attempts to stop the assault, but she immediately becomes the next target.
    • One of the attackers lunges at her, hitting her head against the train doors in the process. Other members of the assailant group follow suit and begin kicking and punching her as she lies on the ground.
    • A man eventually intervenes before the video cuts off. It is unclear what happened next, but the incident was reported to the SEPTA police.
    • The attack caught on video follows an incident that happened on an express train in Olney on Tuesday. The same assailants reportedly poured a smoothie on a group of Asian male students and called them racial slurs.
    • The female victim flagged down SEPTA Transit Police and notified them of the assault at 3:45 p.m., Fox reported. She was rushed to a hospital where she was treated for a laceration.

    Charges and other details: SEPTA police launched an investigation and are reportedly working with the Philadelphia Police Department and the school in the area. Police have identified the assailants in the video and found other victims — one female victim and three male victims in total — from Central High School as well as two more suspects.

    • The four female suspects in the video, aged 13-16, await charges, including ethnic intimidation, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and terroristic threats, SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
    • While Nestel added that the attack was based on “ethnicity” and “ethnic slurs” were hurled at the victims, the incident was “unprovoked.”
    • “She was a hero,” Nestel told reporters about the female victim. “She stepped up and told the girls to stop saying what they were saying. She then became a target. Just truly heroic, courageous.” 
    • The mother of one of the suspects turned her daughter in after seeing the video go viral.

    The aftermath: No serious injuries were reported, but the mother of the young boy told CBS in Chinese that he was attacked because he was of Asian descent.

    • “We are the city of love, we are not the city of hate and her kid didn’t do anything wrong, and her kid didn’t even know the girls,” the mother said via a translator.
    • Philadelphia City Councilmember David Oh called for better security on SEPTA trains: “We need uniformed police officers there to let people know who to go to if something happens and that they are safe. There are too many people telling me that they don’t want their children riding SEPTA, too many adults saying they no longer take public transportation, and there has to be a level of action.

    Featured Image via @MrAndyNgo

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