PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) – Two high school students in Philadelphia are the victims of a vicious attack, leaving some to question the motives behind the senseless beating.
It happened in South Philadelphia, the same neighborhood that saw students attacked just last year.
The previous incident victimized Asian students at South Philadelphia High School. A federal investigation later revealed that attack was racially motivated.
This past Friday, two Asian students were attacked at Edward Bok High School. This time around, school officials said they have not figured out a motive.
Principal, Dr. Larry Melton said, “I can’t say it was racially motivated and I can’t say it wasn’t.”
The two victims are 14 and 15-year-old Chinese-immigrant students. According to police, the 15-year-old was on his way to class when without provocation, he was assaulted by a group of non-Asian students. The 14-year-old victim told police, he jumped in to help his friend and the group turned on him and he was also punched in the face and head by the group.
“They were beaten pretty seriously especially around the head and neck, serious enough to seek medical treatment,” Helen Gym with Asian Americans United told Eyewitness News.
Dr. Melton explained some students had expressed concern, calling Friday “Freshman Hazing Day”. So Dr. Melton said he began that school day warning all students, bullying will not be tolerated.
“We’ve never had a problem with it before and I’m not saying that’s what it was. But we’re treating it very seriously,” Dr. Melton said.
No other “hazing” incidents were reported. Thus on Tuesday, school officials reached out to members of the Asian community knowing the community is already on edge following the December attack on seven Asian students at South Philadelphia High School.
Dr. Melton said, “We’re not ruling anything out. We’re open-minded to whatever the situation might be so we’re continuing to look into it. We’re going to take care of it. It won’t be covered up.”
“We’re encouraged by the principal’s openness and his willingness to communicate and reach out and start a dialogue about ways of looking at the situation,” Gym said, “But I also think it’s very clear the district has a long way to go in order to address a lot of concerns around things like language access, racial bias and harassment.”
The situation remains under investigation. One of the attackers, a 14-year-old student, was arrested and charged with assault and related offenses. Dr. Melton said he will recommend that the arrested student be expelled. Authorities are talking to eyewitnesses to identify the other students involved to hold them accountable.