A 53-year-old Asian woman in California is now living in fear after falling victim to what she believes were attacks against her race by two separate suspects in a single Metro train ride last week.
The incident, which is now under investigation, occurred on the northbound A Line near Compton station at around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday while the victim was traveling with a male friend from Long Beach to downtown.
The woman said that it all started when she asked her friend to take his hand out of the aisle because two women were standing in the area. She thought his action, which was meant to assist the women, could be misinterpreted.
“My friend, he was afraid that one of them would fall so he stretched out his hand to try to help the woman in case she fell. And I told him that did not look good,” the victim told Eyewitness News. “I was like, ‘Take your hand off because you’re a man and she’s a woman. Don’t do that.’”
To her shock, a man sitting behind them suddenly started yelling, allegedly pointing out her race.
“I hear a voice in the back ‘Hey! Asian woman don’t tell that man that,” she told KCAL News.
Shortly after, one of the two women, who was wearing a yellow shirt, also allegedly began yelling and physically assaulted the victim.
Her yelling initially forced them to move, but the woman allegedly followed them and started throwing punches at the 53-year-old.
“As I’m moving she starts punching and I fell to the side of the train,” the victim told KCAL News. “I was so afraid for my life … I felt so ashamed I was in that position. So just my dignity was stripped away.”
The woman allegedly used racial slurs against the victim during the attack.
A witness who identified herself as Twila Mahone told Eyewitness News that the victim was calling the police while trying to make the conductor stop the train for 11 minutes.
“It was a brutal attack. A very, very brutal attack that should never happen,” Mahone told the outlet.
The train finally stopped at Artesia Station, but the attack was not over yet. In a final move, the man who first heckled the victim knocked her phone out of her hand.
All suspects were able to flee. The victim, on the other hand, was left with minor injuries to her upper body and now fears future attacks.
Long Beach police are now looking for the suspects, but they are not currently investigating the incident as a hate crime.
“At this time, there is no information to indicate this is a hate crime or bias motivated incident. The investigation is ongoing,” police said in a statement.
The incident has angered Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who called for a “full accounting” of the Metro’s security protocols.
“We have multi-million-dollar law enforcement contracts, Metro security, and 300 Metro Ambassadors who have been hired to ride our buses and trains,” Hahn said on Monday, as per City News Service. “But where were they when this woman was beaten up on the Blue Line last week? With this many layers of security, why didn’t anyone come to this woman’s aid?”
Hahn also stressed that similar incidents have occurred in the trains in recent months.
“Enough is enough,” she added. “Our trains need to be safe for our residents.”