This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Just a few highlights from two hours of testimony today by Asian students at South Philadelphia and supporting organizations are below. Video provided by Gustavo Martinez.
Xu Lin, community organizer of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, who has been working with the Asian students from South Philadelphia:
"We were glad to see the former principal removed for her inability to perform her duty. South Philadelphia High School’s new principal was brought to a community meeting by the regional superintendent. She agreed to meet with Asian community organizations on a monthly basis due to our concerns about school violence. The first meeting was scheduled for September 29, 2009… We waited for over 40 minutes before we were able to have a brief meeting with her. The principal promised to meet with us again in the near future, but this has yet to happen."
Ellen Somekawa, executive director of Asian Americans United, noting that many of the victims of anti-Asian violence have not yet been interviewed by the District:
"If a student is beaten at the school and taken to the hospital, you would think that the District would call up the family and find out how the student is."
"The students are very disappointed with the pace and the seriousness of the investigation."
(In response to concerns about the investigation, Superintendent Ackerman noted that there would be an outside investigator hired, who will start interviewing students and staff next week.)
Duong-Thang Ly, a senior at South Philadelphia:
"The security guards also are the big problem in South Philadelphia High School… They did not do anything when they saw the kids wander along the hallway during class time and when students can get out of school easily… which led to my friends getting attacked inside the school last week."
Wei Chen, student and president of the South Philadelphia High School Chinese American Student Association:
"Inside of school and outside of school I have a lot of African American friends … In the past they have tried to help us as well. We hold no animosity towards them. We can be friends. I feel that the fault is not of the African American students, but of the school administration."
Cecilia Chen, staff attorney, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:
"Although we have been focusing on South Philadelphia High School, I want to stress that attacks on Asian students are occurring throughout the District and that these attacks often go unrecognized, minimized, or ignored by school staff and officials. The civil rights violations against Asian students did not begin last Thursday. They began months ago, years ago, decades ago."