, Newburyport, MA


July 18, 2014

In Plum Island assault case, surprise and shock

The most head-turning story to appear in this newspaper this week is today’s main story, regarding the assault that occurred on Plum Island in the early hours of Memorial Day. Two local women who were looking for a dog were beaten and injured by what they described as a large group of people; the women’s lawyer stated the group had connections to an Asian gang. The incident has caused a tremendous reaction on Plum Island.

For weeks there has been very little official information released by police, and in that absence much has been rumored and supposed. Many on Plum Island have rallied to support the two local women who were injured in the fracas, holding well-attended fundraisers to help pay for medical and other expenses. Many have also lashed out at Newbury police for their slow response.

Yesterday, Newbury police announced the results of their investigation, a report will no doubt be a source of surprise, shock, and anger for many who have followed the case. Police believe there is sufficient evidence to charge eight people -- including the two local women -- with assault and battery. Worse still, police say the two women initiated the incident by making racial slurs against a group of Asians who were partying at a home on the island. Police also say there was no connection to an Asian gang, and that accusation actually harmed their investigation.

This is a very different narrative than has been playing out on the island for the past several weeks. It will be a hard story for many to digest. The fact that it has taken so long for this to come out has solidified a widely-held belief on the island that the police responded too slowly, and that an injustice had been done that has threatened public safety.

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