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A huge outpouring of support for the Asian American girl who got attacked on SEPTA after trying to stop bullying brought in over half a million dollars in less than 24 hours, via a fundraiser set up by her mother and brother.
Titled “Support Christina in Advocating for Public Safety,” the GoFundMe had raised nearly $550,000 by early Saturday afternoon, from close to 10,000 donors.
The page was set up by YLin Chen and Michael Chen, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation confirmed to Billy Penn. They are mother and brother to Christina, the 18-year-old seen being punched and stomped on by other girls in a viral video of the attack.
Christina was recently released from the hospital, according to the fundraiser, and will be receiving mental health support from a therapist.
“As her family, we will continue to campaign against Asian hate crimes in the School District of Philadelphia,” the Chens wrote on GoFundMe. “In addition, we are actively advocating for the safety of school students when taking public transportation.”
The assault took place around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on the Broad Street Line near Erie Station, according to SEPTA.
An 18-year-old senior at Central High School, Christina was riding home from school, her aunt Mei Lu said, when she saw a group of Black girls “tormenting” another group of Asian American students who attend Central.
When she tried to intervene, the group of harassers turned on her, injuring her to the extent that she required hospitalization.
The attackers were identified within a day, according to Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. Described as being between 13 and 16 years old, they face multiple counts including ethnic intimidation, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and disorderly conduct.
One of the girls charged with assault had run away from home two weeks prior, her mother said in an interview with NBC10. She called her daughter’s actions inexcusable.
“We’re all apologetic,” the mother told NBC10, which is not releasing her name. “We are embarrassed, ashamed. It’s not who we represent.”
The attack has become a rallying point for Philly’s AAPI community.
People of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have contended with increased hate crimes since the start of the pandemic. Nationwide, more than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents have been reported over the past two years, up more than 75% from before COVID.
Councilmember David Oh, who was the first Asian American elected to political office in Philadelphia, has called on SEPTA and the school district to increase security measures. Nestel, the transit police chief, told WHYY he was immediately stationing an officer at Olney Station to help commuting students.
No details are yet available on the Chen family’s plans for the money raised, per the Chinatown Development Corporation. On the GoFundeMe they wrote donations will “help us advocate for the city’s public safety.”
Comments on the fundraiser page praise Christina as brave and a hero. “You have showed true courage and selflessness!” one donor said. “So proud of your heroic action!” said another. “You are not alone,” wrote a third.
Christina’s main wish, the Chens wrote, “is that students, regardless of race, can be safe outside of their homes.”