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Two Hundred and Fifty Chinese Students Unite to Request a Guarantee of Safety
From Singtao Chinese Daily
April, 5, 2003

“Dear Principal: The question of school safety hovers closely above our heads. We all know that the school has put a lot of effort into finding an answer for us. However, the school’s security guards have been lax in their duty to protect us, the Chinese students ...” Due to unprovoked attacks upon two more Chinese students by Hispanic classmates the day before yesterday, more than two hundred fifty Chinese students at Flushing’s John Browne High School wrote a letter to
their principal yesterday requesting serious handling of the continued beatings and bullying, pointing out that school safety officers have not taken any additional steps to curtail such attacks. City Councilman John Liu held a press conference yesterday (4th) to address what measures the school administrators must take.

Due to the recent violence against Chen Jianping by Hispanic bullies, who is now too afraid to return to class, and also against Li Bo, Chinese students came together to voice their dissatisfaction at the continued violence. Their efforts resulted in Flushing Councilman Liu paying a visit to John Browne and talking to school officials.

Chen Jianping, Li Bo and ten other students showed up at the Councilman’s office yesterday to express the concerns that they shared with two hundred and fifty others, and also to deliver him a letter that they had all signed. Chen Jianping said that he was extremely moved by the support that his classmates had shown him in the aftermath of his attack, adding that “our fingers are neither pointed at the school nor at the principal who has shown us so much concern, but at the security officers, who have a poor attitude. In light of this violence, we hope school officials will finally be able to find concrete ways to ensure our safety.”

The Chinese principal of John Browne, Lei Zhenzhu, told this reporter yesterday that the school is taking Chen Jianping and Li Bo’s assaults very seriously, and that, aside from considering only the victims’ accounts of the events, it has launched an investigation involving teachers, school employees, and students of all ethnicities who have come forth to offer help to obtain justice as quickly as possible. She added that she plans to increase multicultural awareness among both the students and the guards to hopefully bring about an understanding and minimize scuffles. Lei hopes that Chen Jianping will not give up on his studies and will return to class soon, and also help school authorities pinpoint his assailants.

After meeting with her for a second time yesterday, Councilman Liu told reporters that the school’s most pressing objective is to nurture a bond of trust with the students in offering them a sense of safety. The next goal should be to intensify the training of security guards. He added that the school is not treating the matter lightly, and will offer zero tolerance to the attackers by expelling rather than suspending them once they are caught. However he will allow the school some time to act, and expects some concrete results by the middle of next week.

Chen Jianping and Li Bo, who went to the local police precinct to file a report yesterday, said, “Ours is a good principal, and we don’t wish to give her more work on top of her responsibilities ... but we also wish for a place where we can learn in safety!”

Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung.

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