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Philly teenager, victim of brutal, racially-motivated train attack, speaks out

Christina Lu, 18, who was assaulted on public transit after defending her 14-year-old schoolmate, spoke out for the first time Tuesday.

Christina Lu, a Philadelphia high school student who was one of the victims of a brutal, racially motivated attack earlier this month, spoke out for the first time Tuesday. 

The 18-year-old was with a group of students on a SEPTA train, Philadelphia’s public transit, when she saw a 14-year-old freshman, who is Asian, being attacked on his way home from school. When Lu tried to intervene, the group of attackers threw her to the ground and began kicking and beating her. Police say the assailants, four teenage girls, used racial slurs during the incident. 

Lu gave a speech to a crowd outside a municipal building Tuesday afternoon as a crowd rallied demanding accountability from SEPTA and an end to anti-Asian hate, according to a video from CBS Philly.

“You all have inspired me,” she said. “Everyone has been calling me a hero, but I am not. I’m just an ordinary girl from an ordinary family who saw people in need of help and so I tried to help.”

The four girls who allegedly perpetrated the attack, all under the age of 17, were charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.

The mother of one of the girls spoke to NBC10 Philadelphia anonymously, saying her daughter is 12 years old and had run away from home two weeks prior to the attack. 

“I was extremely hurt … I needed to meet with you guys publicly so that you know that my family is very sincerely apologetic about what happened to that child because we all pray that our children make it home safe from school,” she said.

She said she tried to reach out to the families of the victims to apologize personally. 

A report released last year by the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign revealed that one quarter of Asian American and Pacific Islander young adults have been targets of racism since the start of the pandemic. The discrimination most commonly came in the form of verbal harassment, cyberbullying and shunning, with students being followed home, coughed on and called racial slurs. 

“I will continue to stand up against bullying and violence and help people in need,” Lu said in her speech on Tuesday.