Huge white man attacks a young Black mother w/ toddler. Calls her a nigger. White folk silent. 3 brothers intervene.https://t.co/8uzXosIJzy— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 17, 2016
The fact that this still occurs on public transportation is extremely troubling—a black mother and her child were faced with a white man who belligerently called them the N-word before three young men of color intervened.
According to Mic, Nitasha Sweaney, her child, and her godmother were riding the TriMet commuter train in Portland, Oregon (a supposedly liberal, progressive city), when a man approached them asking for 75 cents.
Sweaney declined, and the man proceeded to hurl racial slurs at her before the three men stepped in.
On the video captured, you can hear the man yelling, “You f*cking n*gger.”
Emilio Herrera, 21, was one of the men who defended Sweaney, along with his 18-year-old brother Romeo and 17-year-old brother Pablo.
Herrera attempted to deescalate the situation, telling the man “You need to back off” and “We’re not looking for trouble, we’re fine.”
“Film me, n*gger," the man says before exiting the train. He came back seconds later, telling them to erase the video footage.
Herrera told The Oregonian that other white people on the train simply observed, refusing to intervene. “Everybody just sat there and watched us," he said.
Mary Fetsch, a spokesperson for TriMet, wrote in a statement that, “We are disturbed by the individual's behavior. In this type of situation it's appropriate for riders to contact the operator and request police to respond or call 9-1-1 directly."
Sweaney was distraught by what happened, having never experienced it before. “I have never been in an altercation like this, especially not since having my child. I ride the MAX every day to work. I've never felt uncomfortable on public transportation but since this I have been extremely alert and uncomfortable. My main focus now is learning to drive and getting my drivers license. I would never want my child to have to go through that again.”
It’s terribly regressive that a black woman does not feel safe on public transportation, particularly in one of America’s most liberal cities.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucas Jackson