Forced fighting of 7-year-olds leads to arrests

New York:  The two little girls - one in a white winter coat and pink pants, the other in a puffy black jacket and fuchsia boots - approach each other tentatively in a New York City park. They stand almost chest-to-chest, encircled by a group of clamorous teenagers who begin to goad them into fighting.
"Slap her!"

"Just slap her!"

"Punch her."

In a disturbing two-minute video, widely viewed on the Internet this week after being posted to YouTube and other websites, the girls, both 7, square off to a chorus of jeers and shouts. The fracas ends when one girl begins to sob, protesting hysterically, "I don't want to hit her. I'm not playing. I like this little girl."

Police detectives Friday arrested two teenage girls, 14 and 15, saying they incited the fight, about 4:15 p.m. on January 3 in Poe Park in the Bronx. Both were charged with endangering the welfare of a child, the police said.

"Those two teenagers were egging them on," said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman. "It's callous and disturbing and exploitive of two little girls."

Investigators learned of the fight Thursday after the mother of one of the 7-year-olds saw the video on the Internet and contacted the police, Browne said.

The teenagers were not related to the victims. The investigation, however, is continuing: Detectives questioned the 19-year-old sister of one victim and sought to question a fourth girl, also 19, said Browne, adding that there could be other arrests.

Investigators said they believed the 14-year-old had posted the video on her Facebook page. At least two teenagers recorded the fight, Browne said.

The woman who contacted the police told investigators that she thought the teenagers had intentionally fomented the brawl in hopes of creating a video that would receive widespread attention on the Internet, specifically on WorldStar Hip-Hop, a website that showcases clips of violent altercations.

Earlier this month, the mayor of Newark, N.J., Cory A. Booker, excoriated WorldStar and other websites for featuring a video, taken in August, of three men stripping a fourth man and whipping him with a belt.

The men were charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and robbery. 
© 2013, The New York Times News Service
Story First Published: February 25, 2013 14:15 IST

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