Family members of the 15-year-old girl who was beaten and robbed of her Air Jordan sneakers by a rampaging all-male teen mob say they are horrified by the attack in broad daylight in their community.
Led by community activist Tony Herbert, family members, local leaders and Councilman Robert Cornegy gathered at Utica Aveue and Sterling Place in Crown Heights where the attack occurred on Saturday in response to the violence. Herbert took it more personally because he said it was his niece.
Most of those in attendance at the rally were more shocked that a mob of boys would harm a young girl – especially during Women’s History Month.
Emily Leitch, the godmother of one of a 14-year-old suspect showed up, at the rally where she apologized to family members.,
“His mother didn’t raise him to come out and do these things,” Leitch said as she stood with police officers. “I stepped up to apologize to this family, to the young lady because it was not right. I don’t stand for it; his mother don’t stand for it; so she walked her son into the precinct – she’s one of the first to step up and have him deserve the justice for whatever he did. We will work together with the cops and community to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Police believe up to a dozen teens or more were involved in the attack on Thursday afternoon at the corner of Utica Avenue and Sterling Place in Crown Heights. Five teens have so far been arrested in the attack, all of them juveniles, police say.
The teenager had been walking along Utica Avenue on Friday when the mob set upon her, punching and kicking her in the head while she curled helplessly on the sidewalk. The entire violent incident was caught on camera.
At one point, a large teen stomped on her back. At the end of the beating, a young teen snatched Air Jordan sneakers off her feet while she lay on the cement unconscious.
One eye witness, identified only as June, said she and others witnesses the attack on the corner and “until now, I’m still trauma, I’m nervous.”
“I saw the group of guys coming down on the girl, I said, ‘what is this?’ I said ‘get off her, get off her,’ but they wouldn’t get off her,” said June, as her hands trembled recalling the melee. “I dropped the things in my hand and I run towards her – as I run towards her, the fat one, he’s the one who put the jump on her back, I don’t see it on the TV, but he is the one who jumped on her and her head and I see her shake and then she passed out. Me and another guy from over there were yelling at them ‘get off her’ and we run to them. I screamed until I lost my voice.”
“Nobody should have to witness that,” said Councilman Robert Cornegy, who stood at her side and urged her not to say too much as to jeopardize the investigation.
Herbert was especially angry that a young girl had been assaulted and he said a short time later, another youth was stabbed only a block away. He said he received a call from his son’s telling him of the brazen attack.
“We are here to talk about violence in our community, not police-on-police violence, but black-on-black crime,” Herbert said. “That’s the problem for us now because our community has to step up and understand we are our own worst enemies when it comes down to this kind of stupidity.”
“So we rally up the family and say this is not acceptable,” Herbert continued. “I understand five people were arrested, I think we are least five people short, and may be another 10 people should go to jail. I’m not a proponent of our young people being in jail, but they have to atone for the criminality committed here on this corner.”
Jacqualine Hamilton, aunt of the young girl, said, “my niece is traumatized.”
“It’s a sad situation and we have to take control as a community – enough is enough,” Hamilton said. “Young black people are dying every day and hurt every day, young people in general, black white Spanish, are being affected. It’s important that we pray we have to pull together as a community.”
“How do we allow this to happen as black kings to allow a sister to be beat down in our community and during Women’s History month? Herbert asked.
Published reports say investigators believe the attack may have been in retaliation for an earlier fight where the victim allegedly beat up another student — but the girl’s friends told the New York Post she wasn’t known for stirring up violence.