By Charlie Creitz, May 09, 2013 11:44 AM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons) A view looking up Avenue of the States in downtown Chester, Pa. from the SEPTA R2 Wilmington train.
A fight at Chester High School in Chester, Pa. is the latest shocking event in a much maligned Pennsylvania city. Chester police arrested five students Wednesday that are accused in the beating of a 16-year-old boy that reportedly required stitches to the boy's head.
Edward Stanley, 18, was arrested after he posted a video to Facebook of the beating the 16-year-old in the school's library near West 9th and Penn Streets in Chester. Stanley is seen smiling and commenting on the fight occurring in the jumbled video obtained by KYW.
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The 16-year-old beating victim's father said of the video: "It looked like the devil was in there," and called the fight "ungodly".
"Obviously we don't like having our school district...or our city painted in this color," said Mayor John Linder, D-Chester. Clayton Newman, 18, Omar Davis, 19, and two 16-year-olds were arrested in the fight.
The 16-year-old was kicked, punched, and had a library chair thown on top of him during the fight.
The incident marrs a city in the early stages of recovering from years of blight, drug activity and innumerable murders and violent crimes.
Chester, located about ten miles south of Philadelphia International Airport near the Delaware State Line, has seen the addition of a Harrah's casino near the city's border with the borough of Eddystone, as well as the construction of PPL Park, the home of the Philadelphia Union MLS soccer team in the last few years. Nonetheless, wide swaths of the city, split approximately in half by Interstate 95, are still fraught with troublesome occurrences. Widener University, the Crozer hospital and a series of residential streets mark the north side of I-95, which to many is referred to as the line between 'good' and 'bad' Chester.
The "Boyle Street Boys" and "The Cutoff" were two violent drug gangs disbanded by authorities in the early 2000s. The gangs operated in the troubled Highland Gardens neighborhood, located just south of I-95 near US Route 13 and Highland Avenue. The "Boyle Street Boys" were named for one of a number of "U" shaped narrow streets in a once-peaceful residential section of Highland Gardens. Because of the pattern of the neighborhood, it is often difficult for a visitor to find their way out of the loopy, winding one-way streets.
Most notably, in June 2010, the murder of 2-year-old Terrence Webster, part of four violent murders in an eight day span caused then-Mayor Wendell Butler, Jr., R-Chester, to issue a state of emergency. He reportedly was notified of the fourth killing in the middle of the night by police authorities and decided as he sat distressed at the edge of his bed that he had to find what he could do in his mayoral capacity to stop the violence, according to an interview with FOX 29's John Anderson.
Butler sent five major sections of Chester on lockdown, and called in the FBI and Delaware County Sheriff's Officers, along with Pennsylvania State Police and Chester Police to patrol the city in 12-hour shifts for over 30 days following the killing spree.
In the sections that weren't under lockdown, a ride through Chester on transit bus 113, which runs the length of town on 3rd Street, revealed a deserted city after dark. The Avenue of the States, an arterial in the center of Chester adjacent to the former Amtrak station that serves as a transit hub for the area, was markedly emptier than it had been prior to the curfew.
Butler's sweeping actions did result in a drop in violent crime following the week of horror. Butler participated in an anti-violence rally soonafter, and later said during a press conference that the city's identity should not be painted with broad strokes because of the pockets of violence: "We live with a small number of jackasses who choose to commit harm on other people," Butler famously said, "More than 90 percent [of Chester residents are] trying to live their lives in peace and harmony."
Butler lost his reelection bid to Linder in 2011. His successor told the Delaware County Daily Times that he would continue to investigate the recent beating at Chester High School. On reports that Chester school authorities did not immediately notify police of the situation, Linder called the notion "inconceivable".