The viral video of a girl being assulted by six other girls at a Flatbush McDonalds is gaining attention. (126999)
Credit: YOUTUBE

“The big story in the McDonald’s beatdown is the possible presence of psychotropic drugs that some, if not all of the fighters, may be taking,” said Leroy Baylor, WHCR host of “The Communicators.”

The beating was seen around the world after it was captured on a cell phone camera and posted on the Internet. A young lady, Ariana Taylor, 15, was assaulted by several high school girls. The vicious, prolonged beating left Taylor hospitalized with a concussion and bruising.

Harlem activist Baylor said, “The mention that one of the teens has mental problems is a ‘red flag’ to stop Black people from agreeing with the tabloids that we have given birth to savages. These same news media avoid mentioning the prescription drugs of an individual who is involved in a crime or suicide, because the drug makers’ sales will be affected. At the same time, history exposes news media as quick to tag Black suspects as ‘brutes,’ ‘savages,’ and Black victims as having some ‘criminal background.’ The last time we saw this frenzy was the Central Park jogger case, which was used to implement laws to charge teens as adults around the nation.”

The leader of the McDonald’s fracas, Aniah Ferguson, 16, was arrested last Thursday and charged with gang assault and robbery. She, like two others, reportedly turned herself in and is being held on $50,000 bail. Five of the six girls police are seeking have been arrested.

Ferguson has been arrested several times, including for assaulting her 64-year-old grandmother and stabbing her brother with a knife.

Dozens of people stood around as the teens pummeled the victim. Not one single adult stepped in to stop the melee.

“Our children are not savages,” declared Assemblyman Charles Barron. “They are products of their environment. If the elected officials want to give out $1,000, it should be for their counseling, not for their capture. The young lady who they say led the fight has been arrested at least six times, obviously the criminal justice system is not working for her. We have problems with our youth, and they need mental health solutions, not incarceration.”

Mental health advocate Terrie M. Williams said she was stunned to see the terrible beating of a young woman by her peers. The author of “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting” added that while people condemned “the brutal attack along with the ringleader. The question is not ‘What’s wrong that person?’ but rather ‘What happened to that person?’”

She continued, “You—we—never know what a person’s journey has been and how they survive[d] it. And to do something as horrendous as what we witnessed, speaks to an issue far deeper than we can ever know or imagine. Simply put, the young sister needs counseling, yesterday—not jail.”

Baylor stated, “Fighting is common in many of the city schools because thousands of individuals are operating in altered states of mind. There has, and is, the wholesale attempt to get Black children on these drugs to curb behavior that reflects boredom in the classroom, or outright disruption in the classroom.”

Baylor told the Amsterdam News that he recently interviewed a mother of two young boys, one of whom had been prescribed a psychotropic drug. “After giving him the prescribed dosages, she saw him becoming a different person, demonstrating quick anger. This was not the case prior to the drug. She stopped giving him the drug, and the state started action to take her child away from her.”

Baylor concluded, “I have interviewed a top psychologist who talks about these drugs as not ‘side affects,’ but as the actual effects of these drugs. So Black conscious psychologists and psychiatrists should be stepping forth in the McDonald’s case. They should explain to [the community] the probable effects of these drugs and how the in-class performance of our children is affected. These teens should not be railroaded while a mob of teens in another part of Brooklyn beat two off-duty cops and get much lighter treatment in bail and criminal charges.”

Daiyaun Muhammad, 17, president of the mentoring group Sophisticated, Well-Articulated Gentlemen at Brooklyn College Academy, knows all of the girls involved. They attend Erasmus High School. Muhammad told the Amsterdam News, “It is common to see fights like this. Some young people feel that ‘there is no talking, we have to fight it out.’ It’s never about finding common ground.”

He noted, “It makes it worse for everybody who wants to be positive, especially high school students because some don’t want to succeed, they just want to fight. It starts at home, where their parents are not teaching them to think before you speak; second guess before you act. I am optimistic, though. There are lots of programs like in the Nation of Islam and around the city to get young people involved in positive activities.”

Monday, Ashley and Dominique Sharpton and their National Action Network’s Youth Huddle hosted a “vigil” outside the Flatbush McDonald’s restaurant where the beating took place.

The Sharpton sisters, who are Huddle director and coordinator, respectively, noted that although the attack was particularly shocking, such teenage aggression has been common in the community because of gang activity in the Flatbush area. The sisters stated that this issue should be a focal point.

“Any of our kids could have been in that McDonald’s,” Ashley said.

The vigil, a symbolic gesture to “ask God to watch over us, the area and those children,” was also attended by Love & Hip-Hop’s Peter Gunz and Eric Garner’s daughter, Emerald. Gunz, whose show features a number of controversial physical fights, saw the video as a call to action, and Emerald flashed back to watching her own father lose his life on camera as bystanders stood and watched.

The Sharptons said the vigil will be part of a continuing effort to address the youth violence in the Flatbush area.

“It’s a combination of different things,” Dominique said. “It’s gonna take community leaders stepping up. We need to focus on making sure these community centers and these PALs [Police Athletic Leagues] and our Ys are open—that they open their doors and provide those resources for them.”

An all-out brawl among white students in Bohemia, Long Island, received much less attention, even though, as NBC News reported, the “high school students brawled with one another using baseball bats and brass knuckles following a lunchroom dispute.” The news report blurred the faces of the students at the Connetquot High School in Bohemia. One student went to the hospital with a broken jaw.

The Rev. Herbert Daughtry noted, “I found it interesting and revealing that while some of the media, particularly the tabloids, blasted, in the most pejorative terms, the observers who did nothing, but they didn’t use the same language when medics and others, who were supposed to be caring for the needs of those in distress, stood around and watched Eric Garner being choked to death.”

Minister Hafeez Abdul Muhammad, head of Mosque No. 7 and Minister Louis Farrakhan’s New York representative, told the Amsterdam News that he played the entire video at the mosque Sunday. “I said this is not reality TV. This is us now. These are the people who we must teach knowledge of themselves. Those young girls don’t know even who they are. They think that they are an Internet sensation, but they don’t know about the emotional and neurological damage in the future. I want to go into the schools. These are our people. I’m not going to throw them away. It’s ugly, but it is ugly because we don’t go in among them in the streets. You are going to find me on the boulevard teaching and listening to our young people.”

Muhammad recalled, “We fought, too, in our day, but we used fists, not guns, and then we learnt one day to grow up and apologized. Our young people have to do the same. We have to quicken the pace and get to them.”

Young area residents also spoke out on the issue.

“I was shocked,” said Gloria Lubin, 26. “These kids are out of control. It’s like, ‘OK, another fight.’ It has to do with their upbringing and how they were raised. I always say it always starts at home.”

“I thought it was really crazy,” said Aziza Williams, 26. “I’m from [St. Vincent], so that’s not tolerated at all. So when I saw it, I thought that would never happen back home. Before it got to that extent, either one of the workers or some other person standing up would’ve tried to resolve the situation before it got that far.”

“There shouldn’t be a generation of kids fighting in public places,” said Malik Munroe, 16. “Fighting has been a trend with this generation.”

Daughtry suggested, “The teenage attackers are our children. We all share in their behavior. For example, one in particular, called ‘the leader’ has had encounters with the law six times within a year. She has attacked her grandmother and brother. Somewhere along the way, some individual or institution should have recognized that this young lady needed help. To have allowed her to move about without providing assistance, surely, some individual and/or institutions within society must bear some of the blame for her behavior. Why did the society fail them also by not providing the assistance they needed?”

Brooklyn school principal Adofo Muhammad declared, “I think it is indicative of the bastardization of our culture, the sense of self and the apathetic behavior of ourselves and others.”

The 17-year veteran educator warned, “I think, unfortunately, it is a prelude of what is to come if we don’t change our current trajectory of living fowl and this decadent behavior. We have to check these young people’s inability to express themselves without using violence in this microwave culture. They want what they want right now. They believe that the world owes them something. They are immersed in reality called ‘tell a lie vision,’ and it is destroying their sense of person and knowledge of self.”

Additional reporting by Brian Josephs.