The African Advisory Committee of the Bronx said two recent Senegalese immigrants were beaten up at school and taunted with cries of “Ebola” from the attackers.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) said it was an example of how fear of the virus “can bring out the worst people.”
The attack happened about 2 p.m. on Friday at the I.S. 318 Elementary/Intermediate School; the targets were brothers, a 6th grader and an 8th grader. The advocacy group said they suffered “severe injuries” and were taken to the hospital.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the acts of violence that were recently committed on two young boys from Senegal here in the Bronx,” Serrano said Monday evening in a statement. “This is perfect example of how, as the fear of Ebola spreads, it can bring out the worst people and the impact that stigma is having on the African community.”
The congressman said he joined the Senegalese Association and African Advisory Committee in “denouncing this heinous act.”
“Bullying has no place in our schools and neighborhoods, and we cannot allow the Ebola epidemic to stigmatize a single community,” Serrano said. “I am greatly disappointed by the significant backlash Africans in my district and throughout the country are facing amidst the Ebola epidemic. This is not who we are as a community and as a nation, and we all need to contribute to put an end to the fear and stigma around Ebola.”
“Ebola is not a West African problem, or even an African problem, it is a global health concern. Instead of feeding into the fear and discriminating against others, we need to come together in solidarity as we grapple with this terrible disease.”
The boys’ father, Ousame Drame, said the brothers were born in America and raised in Senegal, and have been harassed over the past two weeks.
Senegal had one Ebola case, an infected student from Guinea, and was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization this month.
Drame blamed the school system for not protecting his boys, not the young attackers. “They don’t know nothing,” he said. “They’re babies.”