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Where are the Heroes among us?

In an increasingly connected, more diverse society, why was a racially motivated gang attack on Oxford Street allowed to happen with virtually no intervention from passers-by?

We would all like to believe that we are the image of our favourite movie protagonist, dashing to save a victim from the clutches of a menacing villain. However, the present reality presents itself as rather a distasteful substitute.

When Yeon Jeong Lee, a student studying at Canterbury University from South Korea, was attacked by a group of 10 teenagers whilst walking with her friend through Oxford Street on the 11th of November, only two people emerged from the bustling crowd of commuters to intervene. The group of teenagers had been pursuing the two students, pelting rubbish at their backs and calling, “Do you speak English?” mockingly. Lee threw a piece of the rubbish back and was consequently subjected to the considerably taller and stronger teenagers punching and kicking Lee in the head and body, after tackling her to the ground. The group continued to pummel Lee and her friend with physical blows for six to seven minutes, according to her police report, before two strangers emerged and quelled the assault.

The Galleon commends the actions of Lee’s two saviours as they did not use physical violence to remove her attackers, but simply showed that they were willing to stand up to a violent aggressor when a multitude of passers-by were not. Had this incident taken place in a dingy alleyway far from the eyes of the public, this article’s title may have been very different. And, as the writer, I am sorry to say that it is the one I was compelled to select.

Oxford Street is a throbbing area of the UK’s capital, and hundreds of shoppers pass through the network of boutiques and retailers every day. How can it be then, that out of all who were
present, only two decided to emerge and prevent the attack on Yeon Jeong Lee after 6-7 minutes of physical bombardment?

“Lee and her two friends should not have had to face such a bombardment alone, particularly in one of the busiest districts of London.”

Now, I do not believe that in every scenario we should try to intervene ourselves as, particularly in more urbanised regions, we do not know what tools our aggressor may be carrying to defend themselves with. Instead, we should be immediately amassing help by contacting police forces, or rallying into larger groups to ward off attackers by displaying strength in numbers. These are basic principles that cavemen tribes used to defend themselves in a more Palaeolithic era. Either call for the biggest and strongest answer to danger, or unify around one another to ward off danger. Lee and her two friends should not have had to face such a bombardment alone, particularly in one of the busiest districts of London.

Perhaps I am being cynical to suggest that the idea of group unity is slowly dissipating in modern
society. We still have group chats and social events after all. But the primary reason that we form groups is so we can feel comfortable in that protective cloaking of a social circle. Outside the help of the rest of the pack we are naked and stand a much lesser chance of survival. I ask that we learn from this example and not leave brave victims like Yeon Jeong Lee to solving the conflict themselves. She was offered a therapy course when she returned to Canterbury after filling out a form with the local constabulary and has been put on the waiting list for answers. We, as a group, can and should be better than that.

This content is one individual's opinion and does not represent the opinion of The Galleon. If you disagree with this article or have any further comment to make please email

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