Thursday, September 7, 2017

GoFundMe Aims to Help Refugee Beaten on Facebook Live in Tower Grove South

Posted By on Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 12:16 PM

click to enlarge Abrianna Gibson has been charged with third-degree assault for a brutal attack neighbors say was streamed on Facebook Live. - COURTESY OF THE ST. LOUIS POLICE
  • COURTESY OF THE ST. LOUIS POLICE
  • Abrianna Gibson has been charged with third-degree assault for a brutal attack neighbors say was streamed on Facebook Live.

Neighbors are rallying to help a young immigrant woman who was beaten and left unconscious by a group of youths in Tower Grove South on Labor Day — starting a GoFundMe to help with her medical expenses and time off work.

The neighbors say the 27-year-old victim was a refugee from a nation in Africa, perhaps the Congo. They also say the brutal attack was live-streamed on Facebook, although it has since been removed from the site.

In a statement on the GoFundMe site, the neighbors say,
If you had watched [the video] you would see the woman who is now hospitalized being pulled out of her home by her hair, kicked and severely beaten, and then thrown off of her porch before she was beaten with a pole. Three other individuals were beaten as well.

All of this took place in front of children who lived in the home. As the attack was live streamed, social media egged the attackers on, the number of "viewers" watching was the prize and incentive.
In their statement on the GoFundMe page, the neighbors make it clear they stand with refugees and are horrified by the attack.

"The actions of the attackers do not represent the heart of the majority of Tower Grove South," they write. "We welcome Refugees, we welcome all walks of life. We stand in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed. This family came here fleeing from a situation where they feared for their lives/safety. They are Refugees. What they have experienced is no better than the circumstance from which they fled."

A spokesman for the International Institute of St. Louis confirmed that the woman is a refugee from Congo working with the agency.

The attack generated consternation not only because of its brutality, but also because of the youth of some of the attackers. Police say they took into custody a 22-year-old female, as well as a fourteen-year-old girl and a fifteen-year-old girl. Two eleven-year-olds are also considered suspects in the case, and a warrant has been issued for two male young adults.

Police have since identified the adult female apprehended on Labor Day. Abrianna Gibson, 22, and of the 6800 block of Georgeland Avenue, has been charged with third-degree assault in connection with the incident. The judge issued a $20,000 cash-only bond.

But some neighbors question why others have yet to be apprehended. Ruthie Scruggs Vincill, who lives on the same street, says police were able to identify the people who participated in the attack before the video was taken down. But even though two suspects are still at large, she says police are making little effort to get them.

"Neighbors saw one of the perpetrators on the street yesterday, called the cops and were told that the detective handling the case was not in that day, so the police didn't respond," she says. "This is unacceptable in the eyes of the residents on the street."

Neighbors are horrified by the attack, Vincill says.

"The incident was shocking to our community on the street because we are just that, a community," she writes in an email. "While there is a language barrier between the family and most of the neighborhood, kindness and compassion are a universal language. .... Because of their refugee status, the family is more vulnerable than most. We want them to know they are welcome and wanted on our street and in our city."

To help, visit the neighbors' GoFundMe page.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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