Four teenagers are facing ethnic intimidation charges for an attack involving a group of Asian students on a Philadelphia train this week, said Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Three male students and a female student were traveling on a train Wednesday from Olney, a neighborhood in North Philadelphia, when they were attacked by four Black girls, said Thomas Nestel, police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).
In a press conference, Nestel described the attack as unprovoked and based on ethnicity, adding “ethnic slurs were used by the attackers.”
The victims told police “ethnic slurs were repeated and directed at them and mocking them for their heritage… it was clear they were picked on because they were Asian,” Nelsen said.
Video of the incident, which was recorded on a mobile device, shows the four girls yelling at the three male students who are seated on the train. Later, they approach the female victim who is standing and one of the suspects is seen pushing her toward the door before repeatedly slamming her head against the train door, the video shows.
The female victim then falls to the ground and is kicked and punched by the teenagers for several seconds before someone is heard yelling “Yo!” to the teens and the video stops.
Police were first alerted of the attack when the female victim approached a transit officer for help at 3:45 pm, Chief Nestel said. She was then taken to Temple Hospital to be treated for a laceration.
All four suspects were identified as Black girls with ages ranging from 13-16, police said.
The mother of one of the teen suspects recognized her daughter from the video, which has been circulated online, and reported her to police, Nestel said at the press conference.
Each of the suspects, who were not identified, has been charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, disorderly conduct, and a recklessly endangering another person, according to Krasner, the district attorney.
One of the suspects was also charged with robbery for attempted theft of a victim’s air pods, the prosecutor said.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was appalled after learning about the incident and said the city would not tolerate such acts of hate.
“Those involved in the assault have been identified and will be held accountable. I want our residents to know that we will not tolerate any acts of hate,” Kenney tweeted.
Numerous Asian Americans have been targeted in violent attacks since last year. Earlier this week, Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of organizations dedicated to addressing anti-Asian discrimination, said it has received reports of 10,370 incidents from March 19, 2020, to September 30.
The organization, which does not verify each report, said the most common form of incident reported was harassment (69%), followed by avoidance or shunning (16.3%) or physical assault (16.1%).
A third of the incidents took place on public streets or inside a business, Stop AAPI Hate said, and more than 60% of the victims were women.
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