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United States

Hispanic woman defends 'Muslim Indian' passengers on New York City subway being harassed by another Latina

Tracey Tong, who is Peruvian and Chinese, tried to reason with a Puerto Rican woman who was verbally assaulting two people on the E train.
15 Mar 2017 – 03:25 PM EDT
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A Latina woman who defended a man and a woman being verbally assaulted for appearing to be 'Indian Muslim' on the New York subway is being called a heroine after a video of the incident went viral. "I think you’re being very unfair," Tracey Tong, 23, said to the aggressor. "You don’t have to disrespect her or her partner ... Here we all have to unite."

"Every time I've seen a video [of one of these incidents] I can't understand why people acted that way," Tong told Univision News Wednesday. "I would always think: If I ever see something like that I’m not going to stay quiet."

During the incident, which took place last week on the E train, the aggressor asks a woman: "Why are you here? Why are you in this country if you are not with us?"

A man by her side, whose image is not in the frame, responds calmly.

Meanwhile, another passenger asks the woman to stop bothering the couple. The aggressor then attacks her: "No, you don’t understand. You're not even from here."

Tong then intervenes and explains to the woman, in English, that she is half Chinese and half Peruvian.

"I decided to give her two minutes to calm down, but she didn't," Tong says.

She asks the aggressor where she is from. When the aggressor responds "Puerto Rico," Tong begins to try to reason with her in Spanish:

“I think you’re being very unfair. Here we all have to unite. We do not have to be against a person, that is absolutely ridiculous and it is a lack of respect. Why are we going to fight with people and start more problems? We have to be together. Do not start attacking a lady who, poor thing, is innocent."

The aggressor, who refuses to stop, tells Tong not to get involved.

But Tong continues: “I do not like how you're treating her. It's rude. We're in this together, okay? We are all in this together, like it or not what is happening with the government. … stand up and defend your brothers and sisters.”

Hong explains that the two people she defended were not actually together.

"The lady looked Muslim and had a small briefcase with her," she says. Then the Puerto Rican woman began to ask her what was inside the briefcase, so the man defended her.

Hong says that if he had realized she was being recorded, she would not have been able to articulate her words "with so much passion, so much strength, so much determination."

"It makes me a little nervous to be in front of the camera, I looked quickly and I did not see anyone recording," says the young woman, who still does not know who took the video.

Hong's intervention joins a long list of similar incidents that have been recorded in recent months. In Chicago, a white woman verbally attacked a black worker from a Michaels store in Chicago; in Kentucky, a white woman insulted two Latinas in a mall; and in Dallas, a white man verbally assaulted a Hispanic WalMart employee.