Stand for Me: Student Confronted by Hate and Indifference on Unitrans

Screenshot of YouTube
Screenshot of YouTube

Editor’s Note: A YouTube video has surfaced this week in which an African American UC Davis student gets onto a Unitrans bus and is confronted by a long barrage of harassment, in which a man repeatedly derides him with racial epithets, belittling comments and a chant of “Trump.”

Complicating the picture is that the perpetrator was himself an elderly black man, clearly intoxicated in the middle of the afternoon, and probably homeless according to the man’s description.

There were other people on the bus besides the bus driver, and no one said a word, according to the man, during this entire incident. The bus driver clearly should have put a stop to this much sooner.

This is certainly a complicated incident. I can understand why other passengers would not want to do something – you have an agitated homeless guy on the bus, and who knows what he will do if you say something. But to allow this man to receive this kind of verbal abuse for as long as he did seems reprehensible.

On the YouTube post he writes, “I ask not that you respond with vengeance but with Grace. Yes, I am hurt and not doing okay. We see that the police force are limited in their ability to help, so I turn to you – My Friends and Acquaintances. This is only the beginning.”

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81 Comments

  1. tribeUSA

    Interesting anecdote–yikes, trapped in a bus with a maniac yelling at you! Seems to me the bus driver should have called the police (just in case things escalated beyond words); presumably other passengers were also uncomfortable and anxious? Maybe someone got a movie of this incident on their wireless phone.

    I can understand why you are disappointed no one else helped you with this–sad to say that often the only people that can be counted on are family, and if you are lucky a few friends. Sometimes I’ve been in bad situations and have been helped by strangers, and sometimes not. Maybe some of the passengers would like to have helped, but were afraid if more people got involved, things could escalate or somehow they might just make matters worse!

    But it seems to me you handled this very well, probably better than anyone else on the bus could have done!

  2. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > A YouTube video has surfaced this week in which an African American

    > UC Davis student gets onto a Unitrans Bus and is confronted a long barrage

    > of harassment in which a man repeatedly derides him with racial epithets,

    How come you didn’t post a link to the video?

    > the perpetrator was himself an elderly black man

    I guess this is why

    P.S. I would be still interested in seeing a link to the the video, can you post it despite the fact that it does not fit the “only white people are racist narrative”…

  3. Tia Will

    can you post it despite the fact that it does not fit the “only white people are racist narrative””

    The only time I have ever heard the claim that “only white people are racist” on this blog is when it is being thrown out there by an individual claiming that there is no discrimination. I have yet to see this claim from any of those of us who believe that racism is significant in our society today.

  4. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > The only time I have ever heard the claim that “only white people are racist”

    > on this blog is when it is being thrown out there by an individual claiming

    > that there is no discrimination.

    If you spend any time in the world of left leaning blogs you will read the claim quite a bit (and almost never read anyone calling out a person of color as racist):

    http://stateofopportunity.michiganradio.org/post/why-all-white-people-are-racist-cant-handle-being-called-racist-theory-white-fragility

    1. Tia Will

      SOD

      If you spend any time in the world of left leaning blogs”

      Well that explains it. With the exception of the Vanguard, I don’t follow any blogs at all regardless of their political affiliation.

      1. Miwok

        don’t follow any blogs at all regardless of their political affiliation.

        That you know of…

        In the 90’s many minorities were instructed their offensive language and jokes were NOT racist, because they were #####s

        When they were told to stop being offensive to their co-workers, they rebelled.

  5. Barb

     
    I watched the video and heard the description of the incident. Clearly the offender was crazy – probably schizophrenic. An individual in that state who is on a rant cannot be reasoned with. I was on a bus in San Francisco when a young black man started screaming obscenities directly at me (I am an old white woman). I did not expect others on the bus to stand up for me because when dealing with a situation like this, direct confrontation is probably the least appropriate response. I empathize with being a victim of such an attack, but in this case I feel the responses of the other passengers, the driver, and the attacked student were appropriate – keep calm and ignore the offender. He’s crazy – can’t help himself.
     

    1. David Greenwald

      I somewhat disagree. I think the driver was too slow to respond. A person was directing a serious of obscenities at a passenger. The driver is responsible for the safety of all passengers and allowing someone to be subjected to that was improper. The police should have been called at some point.

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        >  The driver is responsible for the safety of all passengers and

        > allowing someone to be subjected to that was improper.

        Do you know anything about the driver?  Last time I took the bus home from the train station the Unitrans driver was a girl that looked about 20 and was probably about 110 pounds.  Do you think we should require the young UCD students that drive the bus to make a little extra money jump in every time a crazy person threatens a passenger?

        1. Barack Palin

          WOuld we even be hearing of this incident if a video was made of a crazy white person on the bus calling a white student cracker while railing on about Hillary Clinton?

          1. David Greenwald

            No you wouldn’t. Probably wouldn’t have had the victim do a YouTube either under those conditions.

        2. Alan Miller

          Do you think we should require the young UCD students that drive the bus to make a little extra money jump in every time a crazy person threatens a passenger?

          Yes.

        3. Alan Miller

          No you wouldn’t. Probably wouldn’t have had the victim do a YouTube either under those conditions.

          Your point is . . . that black-on-black harassment gets article status in the Vanguard and the victim of the harassment should post to YouTube, but for the same situation white-on-white, not so much.

          I don’t see the logic.

  6. ryankelly

    He did not experience a hate crime.  No crime was committed.  We have perpetually drunk and offensive people all over town.  Most people have learned to not engage with these people and, if really threatening, to call the police.  I don’t know what he expected the people around him to do – what kind of aid.  They could have called the police, but he could have done that himself or he could have asked the bus driver to do that.

    1. David Greenwald

      It is more properly referred to as a hate incident.

      This is from the UC Davis Police Department:

      What is a hate incident?

      Non-criminal conduct that is motivated by hatred or bigotry and directed at any individual, residence, house of worship, institution, or business expressly because of the victim’s real or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Hate incidents also include conduct directed against an individual or group because of their association or advocacy on behalf of a member or members of a protected class.

      A hate incident might include hate speech, display of offensive materials on one’s property, the distribution of hate materials in public places and the posting of hate materials that does not result in property damage. The freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. constitution, such as the freedom of speech, allow hateful rhetoric as long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others. If this type of behavior escalates to threats or criminal activity against a person or property, then it would be classified as a hate crime.

    2. zaqzaq

      You could have a disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct.  The video would be helpful and I do not understand why there is not link to the video in this story.

  7. Barack Palin

    David, what’s your reasoning for posting this?  It’s a non story unless you’re trying to make the case that the other passengers should’ve confronted the crazy man which I believe most reasonable people would feel is the wrong thing to do.

        1. Alan Miller

          there is a huge a difference between it happening in the open in downtown and happening on a bus.

          Because . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?

      1. Alan Miller

        I think I explained my thinking in the prelude to the article.

        Well, that’s the problem . . . we have your thinking attempting to explain your thinking, which doesn’t help the rest of us who don’t think like you do.

    1. Tia Will

      BP

      It’s a non story unless you’re trying to make the case that the other passengers should’ve confronted the crazy man”

      This ignores the fact that there was another course of action that could have been taken by any of the other passengers without confronting the aggressor. Anyone could have moved into a seat next to the victim and spoken in a reassuring manner to let him know that he was not alone and isolated. Anyone who had a cell phone, not just the bus driver could have called the police. I truly believe that it would be very imprudent to confront the offender, but I believe that it is our responsibility to stand with other members of our community who are being bullied.

  8. Paul Thober

    The passivity and inaction by this man’s fellow passengers, and particularly the driver, is disturbing. I feel that the driver should have taken action as soon as this began, warning the man and then removing him from the bus if it continued and summoning help if unsuccessful at that. I assume they are trained to handle situations like this. The other passengers aren’t responsible for maintaining order by their fellow passengers. There was no hate crime or any crime at all that occurred as far as I can tell. There was a lack of civility by an inebriated and mentally ill person.  I doubt that I would have intervened directly, risking having the vitriol redirected at me. I would have spoken to the driver.

    1. Tia Will

      Paul

      I assume they are trained to handle situations like this. “

      I would not necessarily make this assumption. I drove a small bus for about six months while trying to earn enough money for college. We received no training in how to manage unruly passengers beyond being told to key our radio and talk to dispatch if we felt uncomfortable. This was of course dependent on dispatch being available and not on another call.

      1. Alan Miller

        I’d be really surprised if that were the case today.

        DG you may wish to contact Anthony Palmere to confirm current Unitrans driver training standards for dealing with such a situation.

  9. Biddlin

    What the guy is saying is that if you sit there quietly while some a**hole goes off on a hate rant, you’re endorsing the validity of the a**hole’s point of view. Like a certain political party’s candidates who weren’t decent enough to call out a lying opportunistic real-estate novelist from jump street and now, they’re stuck with him. It’s simple, if you see and/or hear this kind of crap and don’t speak up, you’re as bad or worse than the speaker. He didn’t need the police, he needed neighbors of good will, possessing basic human decency. What he got was a bus load of indifference and/or hate.

    1. Barack Palin

      It’s better just to ignore a crazy man than to engage home and make it worse.  Most people have enough common sense to see it for what it was, just a mentally challenged individual.

      Speaking of lying politicians, when are the Democrats going to call out their liar?

      1. Biddlin

        “It’s better just to ignore”

        It would have been better if the folks along for the ride had told the a**hole to shut up or get off the bus and then acted if he refused. I am so tired of gutless, cowering people. Mentally disturbed? My aunt Hattie’s hairpin. Thugs and bullies will over-run us, because of that kind of twaddle.

        1. Alan Miller

          It would have been better if the folks along for the ride had told the a**hole to shut up or get off the bus and then acted if he refused.

          I have a very effective tactic for dealing with loud, offensive people in public or on public transit.  I don’t look at anyone, and simply yell at the top of my lungs:

          “QUIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-TUH!”  About 15-20 seconds of sonic duration.

          I’ve used this on buses, in restaurants, and in libraries.  Works every time (unless the person is literally mentally ill).

          And usually I can barely talk for about three days afterwards.

    1. hpierce

      And yet, how many times was a presidential contender’s name used on the video posted?  I agree there is not much leeway for expanding, but the video did open a small/medium sized door… perhaps the candidate’s name should have been redacted… I have no trump ‘truck’ with that particular individual.  But still, it was not the subsequent posters who “started it”… it was the video…

      1. Alan Miller

        Yeah no kidding! The guy basically calls Trump a leader of the racists, how can that not be open for discussion? Of course most racists will follow Trump! But that doesn’t make from everyone who follows him a racist. Not by a longshot. With the video opening that wide-open, There is no way you could say that was up off-topic. Unless you didn’t watch the video.

  10. ryankelly

    As a person who was assaulted after trying to speak up, I’ve learned to just not interact with these people.  Unitrans drivers are students also.  They could use more training on how to deal with disruptive riders.  This rarely occurs on Unitrans due to the ridership mainly being UCD students.  If you want to address disruptive and offensive riders on buses, Yolobus is where you should start.  It is really awful, especially at the end of the day when people are riding the buses home to Woodland or Sacramento after spending a day panhandling and getting high in Davis.  The driver can call the police and arrange to meet up with an officer to get the rider off of the bus, but no one is likely to respond between cities.  The driver and the rest of the passengers are trapped on the bus with an unstable person and it is wise not to do anything that might escalate the situation.

  11. WesC

    The last 4 times I have been on Unitrans the driver has been petite female driver who looked all of about 20yrs old and maybe weighing 100-120lbs wet.  These buses are pretty well utilized and it is not uncommon to have 20-40 students on the bus.  Do you really expect this driver to stop the bus and confront the drunk/crazy/abusive passenger?  If your daughter were  the driver would you expect her to put her personal safety on the line so a male passenger who looks more than capable of defending himself did not have to listen to some obnoxious passenger?  If she pulls over and calls the cops she will have to stop and give the officer information on what she saw transpire.  She would then be significantly behind schedule and the 20-40 students would be upset and several could be counted on to file complaints because they were late for their class. She would then very likely get pulled into the office and told that her job was to drive the bus, keep it on schedule, and not be a guardian angel for every passenger who feels offended because another passenger is being very rude. I am pretty confident that the Unitrans does not expect their drivers to be bouncers and put their own personal safety on the line whenever some loudmouthed passenger gets on the bus.

  12. Alan Miller

    Complicating the picture is that the perpetrator was himself an elderly black man.

    Complicated because you are unsure how to label the incident as “racial”?

    Would you have ran this article if an intoxicated, mentally ill, elderly white guy was yelling “honky” and “cracker” at a white UC Davis student, along with chants of “Hillary”?

    Assholes (including racists), drunks and the mentally ill are all about them; we need not take on the spirit of such beings.

    Why are you “hurt”?  Annoyed I understand, but this isn’t about you; you crossed paths with someone who isn’t right.

    1. Miwok

      From the title of the article and a description of the “video” there was “indifference” and “Trump chants”?

      Where was all that? Pretty hard to describe a drunk with possible mental problems as hating anything but todays’ children will always cast themselves as someone who was “attacked”.

      African American UC Davis student gets onto a Unitrans bus and is confronted by a long barrage of harassment, in which a man repeatedly derides him with racial epithets, belittling comments and a chant of “Trump.”

      The child is not very good about blaming who is responsible, that is, him, for standing by while being insulted. If the guy was drunk or he was dangerous, yet did not report it and call the authorities, that is his fault, and David is here to escalate it. Maybe this is the first time he has ever encountered this type of person. They CAN become volatile very quickly. Would HE have jumped in if someone was attacked? On a bus full of cell phones, everyone was passive? No one even turned a camera on?

  13. Tia Will

    Alan

    Why are you “hurt”?  Annoyed I understand, but this isn’t about you; you crossed paths with someone who isn’t right.”

    I think the “hurt” stems from the lack of perceived support from the other passengers, not from the individual who “isn’t right”. I don’t know since it has never happened but I believe that if I was being threatened by a homeless individual, and you came by and did not at least come and stand by me or walk me home, I would probably feel “hurt” that you did not care enough to try to assist me in any way that did not place you in danger.

      1. tribeUSA

        “Don’t expect too much from people and you will be seldom disappointed”

        From Tony Hillermans’s autobiography, “Seldom Disappointed”

      2. Tia Will

        BeAlan

        there is a huge a difference between it happening in the open in downtown and happening on a bus. “

        “Because . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?”

        Because when downtown the victim can easily and rapidly distance himself from his aggressor. A bus is an enclosed space with nowhere to retreat to until a third party, namely the bus driver has stopped the bus and opened the door in order to let one of you off. I see this as a very real and perhaps live threatening difference if the verbal assailant was to become violent.

        Don’t expect the support and you won’t be disappointed.”

        For me, this is not about the expectation of the victim, but rather about the moral obligation of the observers. If one’s actions do not place them at risk, I feel there is a moral obligation to in some way help someone who is coming under verbal attack. Again, no one needed to place themselves at physical risk. A show of support by standing by the individual under attack might have provided him with enough to feel that he was not alone. Remaining silent certainly would have reinforced the feeling of isolation. Again, not about his feelings, but about the humanity of all of us.

         

        1. hpierce

          All the YM needed to do was pull the “stop requested” cord, and exit… in the route described in the video, 2-3 minutes, max.  Weekday, that time of day, ~ 20 minutes until next bus would have arrived…

        2. Frankly

          Not neccesarily.  A friend of mine that works downtown was stalked and cornered by a resident homeless person downtown.

          The difference is not as profound as you make it out to be.

          But I understand why you would feel the need to make it so.

        3. Alan Miller

          A friend of mine that works downtown was stalked and cornered by a resident homeless person downtown

          Then what happened?   I really would like to know.

        4. Barack Palin

          The black man that was recently attacked by what appears to be a white homeless drunk happened downtown.  I didn’t see anyone downplaying that incident because it happened out in the open.

  14. Misanthrop

    Plenty of blame all around but the victim used the “N” word first in a manner he thought was acceptable and then the other guy over reacted while the other passengers remained mute. I’m not saying the guy in the video should have been harangued like that but he shouldn’t have used the “N” word either especially with someone he doesn’t know.

    One time years ago I was sitting in Bar Bernardo and this white kid who said he was from Folsom was using the “N” word and this young black guy was at the bar. The black guy says “That doesn’t bother me.” He looks down the bar sees me and points at me, a much older white dude and says “It bothers him but it doesn’t bother me.”

    I replied “I want to buy you a drink.” Which I did because he was right it did bother me.

    The white kid then went on this long explanation about how he is cool and knows how to use the word because he listened to some CD.

    After a little bit of this I looked up and told him “Just because you bought the CD doesn’t mean you own the word.”

    The white kid tried to explain but I cut him off. “We aren’t your therapists here” I told him. Finally that shut him up.

    When I was growing up I learned that you didn’t use that word. Somehow this young man thinks its okay to use it. I don’t know why people think its okay. This otherwise respectful, thoughtful, introspective young man with a sense of himself and who he has the strength of his faith yet he demeans himself and this older man then complains about the reaction he gets from his elder who rubbed it in to the max.

    I think one lesson in this story is don’t use the “N” word. Its not cool and can open up a can of worms.

    1. hpierce

      Mis… from the narrative in the video, I see no evidence that the young man (hence, YM) used the n-word first…

      That said, there are problems that I see in the narrative:

      The YM ‘engaged’ the older man, even tho’ he (by his own words, referring to the older man) was argumentative with the driver… had he (YM) ‘remained silent’/glared/ignored/dismissed the older man, perhaps the story line would have been different.  He, by his own account, ‘engaged’ the older man. Perhaps, inadvertently, ‘egging him on’…

      Talking about ‘profiling’… elderly, OK… drunk/inebriated, OK… judging by ‘dress, “homeless”… sounds like profiling to me.

      According to the YM’s account, there is no indication that he asked for ‘help/assistance’… from the driver, the other passengers, nor did he use his cell phone to call police… nor did he confront the older man, directly saying something like ‘chill’, ‘that is unacceptable’, whatever… yet, he appears to fault everyone else for not confronting the older man, absent any request for assistance.

      The YM uses not only the n-word, but the b-word repeatedly, yet if I were to be repeating either in this post, I’d be heavily either sanctioned by other posters and/or “moderated”.  The b-word thing is interesting… was there something involved in this incident other than race?

      The YM said he was focused on ‘protecting his art’… if he thought there was a threat to that or his personal safety, why did he not ‘speak out’ to the others present?  I’m pretty sure if had I been on the bus, had he publicly expressed a concern over either, I’d have reacted in his favor.  I probably would have also reacted to the diatribe the YM describes, not in the YM’s defense (which he apparently didn’t request) but because it was an unwanted irritant.

      The YM, after not asking for help, “lectures” the others (his video) for not ‘rescuing’ him.  Guess I need a remedial class in mind-reading… he looks like a healthy, “I’ll stand up for myself” guy… yet, he lectures (his words) “silence is not OK”.  Yet, when he should possibly remained silent initially, he was silent the rest of the time.  That’s OK, right?

      David’s comment that the lack of action by others was “reprehensible” (if I am correct in my read of the events, as presented by the YM) is reprehensible, IMO.

      Moderator… the maker of the video or David brought presidential politics into this thread when it was posted on the /VG… listen to how many times a certain candidate’s name appears in the video, hence, in this thread… the candidate mentioned, of ALL the remaining candidates in either party, is ABSOLUTELY someone I could not vote for.

  15. hpierce

    When I young, I recall this event… horrific… swore I”d never be an un-involved  bystander in a situation like or anywhere near this…  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Kitty_Genovese   The incident reported in the VG is maybe a 3-5 on a scale of 1-100 as to indifference of ‘bystanders’, compared to Ms Genovese case…

    She cried out for help…

    1. hpierce

      No problemo… but for you, I might have made the same error [seriously]… fortunately, I had a dad who taught me to ‘measure twice, cut once’… am still trying to perfect myself on that… sometimes I fail… I may have also  missed nuances when I last posted, but am now aware of any…

  16. Alan Miller

    I finally got the chance to watch the whole video, and I’m very unimpressed with the person who claims to be a victim of this. I sure didn’t see him stand up for the bus driver when the guy who later Hassled him was hassling her. You got a nip these things in the bud.

    One time someone was hassling the bus driver and delaying our bus in Sacramento. I went up and yelled at the guy “get the f*ck away from the door and stop f*cking delaying our f*cking bus get the f*ck out of here you f*ckhead.” (or something similar, you get the idea.). He backed away from the door, and the bus driver took off. She neither thanked me nor criticized my Rather harsh but effective method. Everything was as it should be.

    1. Topcat

      I went up and yelled at the guy “get the f*ck away from the door and stop f*cking delaying our f*cking bus get the f*ck out of here you f*ckhead.” (or something similar, you get the idea.).

      Good for you.  As a society, we have become much too tolerant of uncivil behavior.  Shaming and humiliating people who violate the rules of civil behavior can be very effective.  The guy you yelled at may think twice before offending again.

      1. zaqzaq

        I am looking for video of the actual incident on the bus.  That is what the article appears to reference and I do not see a link.  There is a video of the young man describing the incident.

    1. hpierce

      Not sure that there is a video of the actual incident…  doubt there is one… the video referenced is imbedded in the article, second photo…

  17. Tia Will

    I have a personal story about the “kindness of strangers” which has doubtless shaped my opinion about our obligation to help others in need.

    I was in my 30’s well before the days of cell phones, walking home to my apartment after my shift as an intern. The neighborhood was not great, but it was only a few blocks. A van with two men in it began cruising beside me wanting to “party” and making rather frightening suggestions about what might occur at the “party”. I picked up my pace as one opened the door and started to get out. Seemingly out of no where, a man I had never seen before stepped between me and the van, linked arms with me and said ” The lady is with me.” End of incident. The men drove away. He walked me to my door and left after I had thanked him profusely. Had he not done this, might I not have ended up as another Kitty Genovese ?  Yes, I believe we have a duty to stand up for ourselves……and we also have a duty to stand up for others.

    1. hpierce

      What you describe, I understand… there was physical risk involved… have had several times where I perceived that kind of risk, and acted to intervene… nothing in the narrative presented rises anywhere near to what you describe… had one of the bystanders, without being asked, took it on themselves to ‘defend’ the YM, there may have been physical risks.  Kinda like comparing a scraped knee to the avulsion of a leg… sorry, I react differently to those two…

      I can just see it… if a person had intervened (without being asked), and the older guy lashed out physically, perhaps with a weapon, and the ‘intervenor’ struck back, in self-defense, and the older guy was injured, I could see the headline… “person attacks older black guy, for no apparent reason”.  Hard to demonstrate that the ‘intervenor’ would be considered “not guilty”, as it sounds like neither the other bystanders, nor the YM would have stepped forward… in real time, the YM didn’t even stand up for himself, nor ask for help [from what we know in the narrative].

      Kitty asked for help, big time… you were lucky that someone was present, perceived that there was physical risk, and acted.  Neither apply to the narrative described in the article.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I agree that the severity of the risk as narrated was very different. The principle and the potential for escalation remain the same. I am not suggesting verbal or physical confrontation, only support for the individual being attacked.

        I seem to remember an incident of a white female bus driver a while back who was being verbally assaulted by the students on her bus and the great outcry over that event. She was not physically attacked, and yet many found that to be totally unacceptable and I agreed. What makes this case worthy of being ignored ?

  18. hpierce

    Suggest we ask Unitrans (given date/time/route noted in the video) to ask the driver [anonymously] to corroborate the narrative, or ask if any witnesses other than the driver can corroborate… Unitrans will know who the driver was… if I was a “reporter”, think I’d look into that… but, I’m not a “reporter”…

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