by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man
Here’s a front page Philadelphia Inquirer story on South Philadelphia High School ninth grader Lindi Liu, who was assaulted in a bathroom last month. He was exiting a bathroom stall when another student kicked the door inward, bashing him in the head. A month later, he still has nosebleeds and blurred vision: Pain for Asian youth didn’t end with school assault.
As Liu picked himself up off the floor, he could hear the boy laughing.
The incident lasted only seconds, but for Liu, a 16-year-old immigrant from China, the consequences have been profound.
His vision frequently turns blurry, to where he can’t count fingers held in front of his face. He forgets conversations that occurred moments earlier, and sometimes struggles to identify everyday objects, like the chicken on his dinner plate. He gets sudden nose bleeds.
Liu was examined at Chinatown Medical Services on March 25, where the doctor wrote he had blurred vision and should be seen at a hospital. The next day, Liu underwent a CT scan of the head. A week later, a sudden loss of vision sent him to the emergency room for a second CT scan. More tests are pending.
Liu worries that his condition is permanent – and that he could be hurt even worse at school.
“I have this great fear that someone will attack me again,” he said.
The school district insists that Liu was injured “carelessly but unintentionally.” According to a school inquiry, the boy was kicking the doors of the stalls in turn, and didn’t realize Liu was there. However, a witness account contradicts that:
Dong Chen, 19, said the assailant kicked only one of five doors, the one with a broken lock, behind which stood Liu. Chen said when the door hit Liu’s head, “we could hear it, it was so loud. Pow!”
Liu’s parents are frightened for their son’s health.
“I’m so upset,” Liu’s mother, Hui Qin Chen, said through a translator as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I don’t know what to do.”
The school district has maintained a completely different, media-friendly version of the attack. And apparently, no one from the district has even formally contacted the family to explain what they found, clarify discrepancies, or even reach out and help the family deal with their son’s injuries. According to the district:
1. The incident was apparently a “careless” accident, not an assault. The District claims security camera footage indicates the boy was kicking in all the doors and didn’t know Lin De was behind one of them. Funny though that kicking in doors isn’t exactly a passive act, and an eyewitness’ account that the boys were cracking up at Lin De’s pain doesn’t exactly indicate insouciance. It’s also worth noting that the District’s interpretation of security camera footage has been wrong before. In a District investigation, Judge James Giles claimed that security camera footage showed Asian students calmly eating lunch while attacks were happening in the school cafeteria. He interpreted that as showing that the attacks were not widespread. He later recanted and said the footage was taken before any lunchroom attacks occurred.
2. Lin De’s mother was turned away from the school multiple times to try and speak to school officials, but the District claims it has no proof that she was actually there. Their proof? No footage shows her inside the building at one specific entrance. Oh and plus no one fessed up to turning her away. They recommended via the Inquirer that she specifically identify the person who turned her away – even though no one’s reached out to her to ask.
3. In an equally bizarre turn of events, the school informed Lin De’s family that the student who had committed the assault had been suspended and transferred, but the District denied that and said the family and a community advocate had “misunderstood.” That student had only voluntarily transferred out of the system.
4. And finally, although community advocates have counted a number of incidents of harassment at the school, the School District can only come up with one – the one in the paper.
Nearly five months after the December 3 attacks, the school district has held tight to their complete denial and refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation at South Philadelphia High School — and another student suffers. Be sure to read more in this blog post by Helen Gym at Young Philly Politics, where she talks about the school district’s “alternate reality”: South Philadelphia High: The School District’s alternate reality.