The 18-year-old girl who was beaten on a SEPTA subway Wednesday was trying to defend another group of young people she didn't know, her family said Friday.
“I don’t want to call her a victim. But I want to call her a hero,” Mei Lu, the girl’s aunt, said at a press conference.
“She didn’t know anyone in the incident, including the African-American attackers, including the Asian boys," the aunt said. "She didn’t know anyone.”
The attack was caught on video that spread widely on social media. On it, the girl can be seen being punched and screamed at by another group of four girls, who them kicked her repeatedly and slapped her with a shoe while she was on the floor of the subway car. The 18-year-old girl is still in the hospital, her family said.
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NBC10 is not showing the video out of respect for the victims on it.
The girl is Asian-American; the girls seen hitting her are Black. The perpetrators have been identified and charged with crimes including assault and ethnic intimidation. The accused are all younger than 17.
Friday, the 18-year-old girl's aunt said she was trying to stick up for another group of young people on the subway, who also are Asian-American. They were being tormented by the other group of young people, she said.
“It just happened to be at the wrong place at the right time, but what she did is the right thing," the aunt said.
“She told me something I will never forget in my whole life," the aunt said. "She said, 'I’d do the same thing. No matter if the boys are Asian, African American, Caucasian. I will protect them because they are younger, they are weaker. I was educated this way; I was brought up this way.'"
Also at the press conference, the family's attorney said immigrant families feel unsafe in Philadelphia schools.
“There’s a problem in the school district, where immigrant students from all countries experience bullying and don’t feel safe," said Jon Chin.
In response to the video, Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh has called on SEPTA and the Philadelphia School District to increase security measures.