To many, the emerald green patches of grass that line the footpaths wending through Marine Park at Fillmore Avenue are welcome invitations. But to 15-year-old Kimberly one of six victims beaten and brutalized in a bias attack one particular patch of grass just steps from the entrance holds a different meaning. My friend and I were running out of the park and they attacked us right here, she recalled, her arms almost instinctively folding in on each other in a defensive posture. They stomped her head into the ground. Thats the image I keep remembering. In a move that was a cross between taking a stand and therapy, five of the St. Edmunds Preparatory School girls attacked during the March 30 bias incident returned to Marine Park to play some hoops. Even as they enjoyed the warm Thursday afternoon under the loving gazes of their parents, they couldnt help but remember what happened not even two months ago. I remember the beginning pretty well, but the end is just a blur, said Kim. Cops and witnesses allege that up to thirty black teens descended on Kim and her friends, calling the girls White Crackers and shouting statements like, Black Power and Martin Luther King. Police said that the fight began with a dispute over the basketball courts, although parents believe that the teens involved were looking for trouble. They werent dressed to play basketball and didnt have a basketball, one parent said. The teens were beaten, kicked and chased out of the park. One of the girls scrambled to a home across the street for help, but a group of assailants grabbed hold of her and pulled her back into the park by her hair, parents said. Cops from the 63rd Precinct arrested five girls, charging them with assault. Sources said that the charges were increased after the children were re-interviewed, following multiple requests by the victims parents, who demanded that the attack should be investigated as a bias crime. According to published reports, three boys, including the alleged ringleader, were taken into custody earlier this month. At least five of the teens were offered up to eighteen months in a juvenile facility if they pled guilty. The teens are due back at court in early June. The students involved are reportedly still enrolled in Marine Park Junior High School, parents said. Gathering at the Fillmore Avenue entrance to the park at 3 p.m. Thursday, parents said that dismissal time at Marine Park Junior High School is now much different than the one that took place on March 30. Ive never seen anything like it, said Joanne, Kims mother. The kids were running, jumping, charging, hopping and running on cars. Joanne said that Marine Park Junior High School has changed their dismissal procedures, keeping the kids away from Marine Park. If kids want to play in the park, they have to go home, leave their schoolbags and return, parents were told. It took something like this to alter their dismissal procedures, said Joanne. But weve been told incidents like this happen a few times every year. When do you say enough? Nothing is going to change if nothing changes. Parents said that Thursday was the first time that the children had returned to the park for recreation. They have been back to Marine Park, but only to do a re-enactment with Hate Crimes detectives, going over every horrid detail. They should have been here to play ball, said one parent, adding that the girls used to go to Maine Park once or twice a week. Thats what were hoping, said Joanna. We want them [the kids] to return to the park down the line and feel safer. I think that the added police presence will help. Police said that they implemented a five-man detail in the park following the attack. Still, with the emotional scars just beginning to mend, some of the girls are hesitant about returning. Im a little scared about being here Im waiting for my friend, said Kim, the first to arrive. But I feel safer that my mother is here. I wouldnt come here by myself, she said. Parents said that they have hired an attorney to investigate any civil recourse they may have against the arrested teens and their families.
©2005 Community News Group
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