PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The young woman who was brutally beaten as a group of Asian American students were attacked aboard a SEPTA train earlier this month is speaking for the first time since the assault. The 18-year-old Central High School student spoke outside the Municipal Services Building in Center City Tuesday afternoon, where people rallied demanding justice, safety and an end to violence.
Christina Lu spoke to the crowd for several minutes. She recalled being kicked and stomped on in what officials called a racially-motivated attack on a SEPTA subway ride as she headed home from school earlier this month. In a one-on-one with Eyewitness News, Lu said she has a message for her attackers.
Pounding the pavement and demanding they want justice, dozens of people marched from the Municipal Services Building near City Hall and up North Broad Street to school district headquarters in Spring Garden Tuesday, demanding safety for students and rallying in support of Lu. Many held signs that say, "Stop school bullying."
"No one should live in fear," Lu said.
Lu made her first public comments since the horrifying moments she was kicked and stomped on a SEPTA subway train while heading home from school earlier this month. The violent assault, which was caught on camera, happened on a train near the Erie station around 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 17.
Cellphone video shows a freshman Central High School student, who is of Asian descent, being attacked on the Broad Street Line subway while heading home from school. The video then shows Lu, a senior Central High School student, who's also of Asian descent, trying to intervene, but she is thrown to the floor and then kicked and stomped on.
Lu had initially intervened, trying to stop the attackers from beating up younger Asian American students.
"From the moment I stepped in, I didn't care who either party were, I only cared to deescalate the problem," she said.
Lu spoke to a crowd of supporters, many holding signs that read "Stop Asian hate" after police called the attack racially motivated.
"I'm a little overwhelmed by the support," she said.
Lu also spoke with Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview. She was asked about the four people who attacked her. Police identified them as African American girls ages 13 to 16 years old. They're now charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and related charges.
"I hope that they learn from this incident, and to be a better person," Lu said. "Because I know that they're just kids and they have a great future ahead."
"They're just kids and they have a great future ahead" -- those are the words Lu said about the same people who attacked her. She also said SEPTA needs to do more to make people feel safe when using public transit.
Lu says she wants to see change. She says people must learn to be open-minded.
"Everyone has been calling me a hero, but I really am not," Lu said. "I'm just an ordinary girl from an ordinary family who saw people in need of help and so I tried to help. I'll continue to stand up against bullying and violence and help people in need."
On Monday, Philadelphia City Council called for SEPTA's Police Department to hire more officers as it has almost 50 vacancies.
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