Tensions at S. Phila. High Longstanding, Students Say

Kristen A. Graham, Peter Mucha, and Robert Moran, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 7, 2009

Fifty Asian students who fear for their safety today boycotted South Philadelphia High, where after dismissal others said racial tensions have long been a fact of life there.

“It’s been going on for years,” senior Danni Glenn said. “Now it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

The Asian students–who will stay out of school for a week to study, investigate a series of attacks that happened last week, and meet with community leaders–hope for resolution, but Glenn isn’t optimistic.

She said whatever the school or other authorities have planned to stop the violence, “it’s not going to stop anything.”

Last week, seven students were treated for minor injuries at Methodist Hospital, after at least five separate attacks.

According to students, fights between African American and Asian students started last week on the streets and spilled over Thursday into the 900-student building on South Broad Street.

Ten students were suspended, and criminal charges are being investigated.

The breakdown of school enrollment is 70 percent African American, 18 percent Asian, about 6 percent white, and 5 percent Latino.

The school district, which met with community groups on Friday, has increased the number of school and city police at the school and around it, according to district spokesman Fernando Gallard.

He said that until the recent assaults, violence was actually down there from last year.

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[Editor’s Note: An earlier story that did not identify the group attacking the Asian students can be read here.]

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