Security in and around South Philadelphia High School will be increased after a number of Asian students were attacked there earlier this week, a school district official said yesterday after a meeting held in response to the assaults.
Michael Silverman, the regional superintendent who oversees 31 of the district's neighborhood high schools, said that as part of the safe-corridors program, city and school police officers and community members will patrol the blocks around the school to ensure that kids get to and from school safely.
School administrators also will focus on improving relationships with all students so that counselors can better help anyone in need, Silverman said.
About a dozen Asian students who had been attacked met with school district and other officials last night at the Chinese Christian Church and Center, at 10th and Spring streets. The meeting was organized by the students and Asian community leaders.
The attacks on Thursday were primarily initiated by African-American students who targeted about 30 Asians students, smacking and punching them, said victims and a meeting organizer.
Silverman said that the meeting was "very emotional."
"The kids [who were attacked] were talking about what happened and also how they felt," he said. "The kids really moved everybody. They were wonderful."
Silverman confirmed yesterday that 10 students had been suspended as a result of the attacks.
He said he couldn't identify the suspended students but said they included African-American and Asian students.
"Everybody who was suspended was fighting," he said.
Capt. Alan Clark of the 4th Police District in South Philadelphia said before the meeting, which was closed to the media, that no arrests had been made.
Students said attacks occurred inside and outside the school, at Broad Street and Snyder Avenue.
Chao Fei Zheng, 19, one of the victims, said that he was among eight Chinese students who were beaten in the cafeteria.
"A lot" of students, both male and female, began hitting them, Zheng said, speaking in Chinese.
Zheng, whose left eye was bruised from being punched, said he did not know who hit him, as he was covering his face with his hands. He said he did not know why he was hit.
Jia Rong Lin, 16, another student, chimed in, contending that the African-American students were "looking for Asian people" to attack. He said he had been hit in the back of the head.
Helen Gym, a board member of Asian Americans United and a school district parent who frequently attends school board meetings, helped to facilitate yesterday's meeting.
It's important to recognize that "a lot of these attacks felt by the students are racially motivated," she said before the meeting. "What's wrong is to deny it" or hope it goes away.
Silverman later said he sees yesterday's discussion and future talks as positive developments that will bring people together.