A viral TikTok video captured a disturbing scene inside a Boston train as a group of teenagers verbally and physically harassed an Asian woman.
Viral incident: On Sept. 23, TikTok user Vanessa Dang uploaded a video her sister took while aboard the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Red Line Subway train. The video, viewed over 1.2 million times, showed the teens engaging in a loud exchange among themselves while hurling racial slurs and derogatory comments toward Vanessa’s sister Vivian.
Harrowing account: Vivian, a woman of Vietnamese descent, told NextShark that she was only able to capture a portion of the ordeal that happened around 10 p.m. on Sept. 21 after a group of five to six teens entered the train at the same time as she did at the Downtown Crossing station. As they went in, she allegedly heard one of them saying, “This is a mass robbery, get on the ground!”
“They started to laugh, I could tell they were just trying to be funny but were more annoying if anything,” she said. “Then, one of them sat right next to me and said loudly, ‘How are you doing?’ I ignore it, as I was planning to for the entire ride home because this was my normal commute home on the train. ”
She says she decided to move to a different cart at the next stop after seeing the teens start to get physical with other passengers.
“That’s when I texted my sister telling her to make sure the door is open when I’m home because I wanted to run inside the house right away,” Vivian recalled. “I knew they were doing this as a stupid joke and to make fun, but I was still scared.”
Racist taunts: When they got to the next stop, other passengers also ran to switch carts, but the group of teens followed, according to Vivian. Upon seeing Vivian again, they allegedly started mocking her for leaving and accused her of being racist for “staying away from black people.”
“That’s when they started throwing words at me like ‘ching chong’ and other Asian slurs. I didn’t let that get to me, but they continued to call me a slut and other terms of that sort and started saying stuff like ‘Can I get an egg roll for $1?’ and naming other Asian foods in a mocking Asian accent. Continued to say stuff about dogs and cats, like ‘No wonder my dogs are missing.'”
Incident escalates: The teens allegedly continued to harass Vivian by sitting next to her and making racist taunts close to her face. She recounted that one of them backed up really close to her, leaving her with barely any personal space. At one point throughout the ordeal, one of them said, “Don’t let her leave.”
When bystanders attempted to intervene in her defense, they too allegedly faced attacks from the teenagers. According to Vivian, the teens continued taunting her close to her face until they eventually disembarked at Andrew Station. They even reportedly broke a window of the train as they left. One witness told Vivian that the teens also harassed an older Asian man with racial taunts in the other cart.
“Terrified”: According to Vivian, she was terrified but acted unfazed the entire time, which lasted for about 10 minutes. Local officers soon arrived and drove her home after interviewing her about the incident. The police had reportedly been on the lookout for the group for causing a similar disturbance in a nearby area.
“If I saw it happen to someone else, I’d be even more infuriated,” she went on. “I would stand up for them, but when you’re in that situation, it’s hard to know what to do or how to react other than letting it be because you don’t know what will happen next… If I were alone, this situation would have been very different, and I would’ve been terrified. I didn’t feel helpless with people around me and people actively showing signs of help, and I am very grateful for that.
“But no one should have to endure those words being said to them. I allowed it to happen to me but do not wish this for anyone else. We have a big Asian elderly community here as well, and I’d be devastated if this reached them.”
A detective would inform her the next day by phone that since the teens didn’t actually threaten her, they did not technically break any civil law. They then told her that juvenile detectives are currently on the lookout for the teens for causing public disturbance.