CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The 16-year-old victim of a brutal attack that started on social media spoke out against bullying Wednesday at a rally organized by his family.
“As soon as I felt them come at me, I thought I was dead,” Paul Martin told FOX 5. “I thought, one bad stomp to the neck or to the head and I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Viral cell phone video showed six teens beating Martin inside Cotixan restaurant in Chula Vista on April 11. The teens were arrested the following week.
“I just want to thank everyone for putting a situation like this in the spotlight where other people can focus on it and speak up,” Martin said.
Martin’s father said it is a miracle that he is alive.
“For some reason he survived this beating. So I’m going to turn a bad thing into a good thing,” Margarito Martin told FOX 5.
The Martins organized a peaceful protest outside of the restaurant where the attack took place. Dozens of people attended, carrying posters and wearing T-shirts with anti-bullying messages.
“We know there are so many cases out there and we want them to know that they’re not alone,” Chula Vista resident Mari Parraza said. “It’s about time that we raise our voices and our voices need to be heard.”
“We have teenagers as well,” another protester said. “If it happened to them it could happen to us so that’s why we’re here supporting our community.”
Chula Vista Police Department Captain Vern Sallee also addressed the crowd, urging students to speak up, and parents to intervene early on. He said students and parents can file directly and anonymously, if they choose, on a mobile app called P3 Tips.
“We get tips on a daily basis,” Sallee said.
The Martins said they plan to work with Chula Vista schools to support other families dealing with the issue of bullying.
“I’m not going to let it go,” Margarito Martin said. “Our family is going to be available for anyone that wants help. We’re going to try to help them.”