Young Woman And Other White Liberals Beaten By Blacks In Philly Tell Their Story
Earlier this week, we brought you news about last weekend’s assault by a mob of teenagers on a group that included our own Emily Guendelsberger. As of now, Emily is still hospitalized, recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered in the attack. But before she went under the knife, she managed to share her story plus the stories of others that were with her on Saturday night when the mob of teenagers attacked. Here is their story.
My leg is killing me right now—a “flash mob” beat the hell out of my friends and me and broke my tibia; I’m getting it surgically screwed back together tomorrow afternoon—they’re giving me a TSA card! [Editor’s note: Emily wrote this on Wednesday night; the last we heard, the surgery went well.] This hospital has no wi-fi; there’s only a single room with a single Internet connection accessible to patients, and I have finally made my way to it. Unfortunately, I cannot bring my beautiful morphine-dispensing button with me, and this wheelchair is clearly made for a child and is very uncomfortable.
Despite its lack of wi-fi, the hospital did give me a double room all to myself. I’m not sure whether this is because I traumatized my previous elderly, Jesus-loving roommate by excessively using the words “fucking” and “fucked-up” while relating what it’s like to get beat up by several dozen people, or whether it’s, as a bunch of people told me when they showed up to visit Monday, because I got “Internet famous.” (I am not making this up: Mayor Nutter called my cell phone. It was out of control.) As long as I no longer have to listen to the Jesus channel/infomercials at full volume at all hours, I don’t care how the private room happened.
So, of course, once I’d gotten stabilized in the hospital, I immediately started Googling “Guendelsberger flash mob.” One of the first things that came up early Sunday morning was an op-ed I wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News last year about why using the term “flash mob” to describe the large groups of black kids that adults assumed were organizing on “The Twitter” belied a fundamental misunderstanding of what was going on. Now the Google search results are so overwhelmed with stuff about “Guendelsberger flash mob” that I can’t even find that link anymore.
So what happened?
At around 9:30, nine friends, my boyfriend, and I left our house at 15th and Green to go to another friend’s house. Two lagged behind to get in a car and drive down, nine walked down Green Street towards Broad to get on the subway. You could hear a big ruckus around the corner, but couldn’t see any of the kids yet. We hit the corner at the same time as the first big group of maybe 40-50 kids, and a couple girls in that group screamed that we needed to run away. I kind of thought they were making fun of us at first, but a couple seconds later, a kid in a sweatshirt came running out of the crowd and cold-cocked the closest male from our group right in the face. That friend, showing kind of amazing restraint, looked very pissed but managed not to swing back (and thank God—but more on that in a minute); he just turned around and started walking away. So did most of us. And this surge of boys came running after us.
They clearly didn’t want to rob us; they wanted to beat up the men in our group. I was barely a target; I think I was the only girl in the group to get my ass kicked because I tried to join a bunch of not-into-how-this-night-was-going girls from the mob who were doing this human-shield thing to prevent their friends from going after my friends. Yes, brilliant, I’m aware. But don’t let anyone convince you that there is a rational thought process involved when it comes to situations like this if you don’t have some very specialized training.
That brilliant plan obviously didn’t work, and I ended up marooned in the middle of this hostile group of kids as maybe 20-30 guys ran down the street after my friends. Someone behind me grabbed my purse, I automatically yanked back on it; someone punched me in the face, I tried to run, but twisted my leg and hit my head when I fell, then ended up clutching my purse in the fetal position and screaming as I got hit a bunch more times.
I kind of lost it there for a few minutes, but next thing I remember I was not surrounded by boys anymore, still somehow clutching my purse, with my friend Meg and a few girls I didn’t know telling me I needed to stop screaming, get up, and run. When I tried to stand on my right leg, there was this very clear, nasty “snap, crackle, pop,” and I fell back over screaming some more. Thankfully, the cops rolled up around then.
The cops asked us all if we could ID the kids who had attacked us. The answer all around was, “Well, it’s those hundred motherfuckers over there!” as the kids hadn’t so much scattered as reformed a block south at Spring Garden. Unfortunately, the cops said they needed specific positive IDs to arrest specific people, and if we couldn’t pick out any faces, they couldn’t grab anyone. They looked as irritated about this as we were, to their credit.
I couldn’t walk at all, so an ambulance was called. I begged them, weeping, to take me to Penn Hospital, where urban legend has it that financial ruin from bills can be avoided via some magical university-related tax write-off. The drivers seemed sympathetic, but were only allowed to take me to the two closest hospitals. My male friends started turning up like a crew of zombies, all bloody and puffy-faced. My boyfriend had the perfect imprint of a sneaker sole on his forehead, which made me cry even worse.
Based on what I heard from the cops, the term “flash mob” is especially out of place in our attack: The kids who jumped us (my high-school-teacher friend pegged them at around 13-16 years old) were not gathered together to wreak havoc via some inane Twitter call of “Let’s go wreck Whitey!” Rather, they had apparently wandered south on Broad from a festival on Susquehanna. That’s just a mob. If the attack had been organized on Twitter, the call to arms would probably have been “Let’s go wreck everything!” This attack has spurred a lot of really ugly talk about blacks targeting whites. Although I guess it’s a reasonable assumption that a white girl would have exclusively white friends, my brown boyfriend is getting increasingly annoyed about how the victims are being automatically classified as white—plus, the mob, in a less-publicized hit at Fairmount and Broad right before us, beat up a group of two women in headscarves and a Latino man whom we met in the hospital later. I am reasonably confident that we were just there.
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