Racially charged confrontation on-board TTC streetcar caught on film
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, November 15, 2016 11:15AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 15, 2016 7:12PM EST
Passengers had to restrain a man during a racially charged confrontation that was caught on camera on board a TTC streetcar last night.
The incident happened on a St. Clair streetcar near Oakwood Avenue in the city’s west end.
The confrontation apparently started after one man asked another to turn down music that was playing loudly, bystander Valeska Griffiths told CP24.com.
Griffiths was riding the streetcar home from work when she noticed the confrontation and pulled out her phone to film it.
In the video she posted to Twitter, a man in a hard-hat repeatedly yells that he was punched in the face by another man and accuses him of breaking his bag. He swears repeatedly and threatens the other man while other passengers try to restrain him.
“These people think they have a right to assault us,” the restrained man, who is white, says to passengers who are trying to keep him away from the other man who has brown skin.
“Go back to your own country,” the man in the hard-hat is heard yelling at the other in the video.
No physical interaction between the two men was caught on camera and neither man exhibited any discernible injuries.
However the verbal tirade went on for about 10 to 15 minutes according to Griffiths.
“Eventually a male passenger had to place himself between the two men and hold back the white guy so he wouldn’t keep attacking the victim,” she said. “At one point I called the guy a racist and he said ‘yeah, so what? Go Trump.’”
The driver of the vehicle stopped the streetcar and tried to calm the men down. The man in the hard hat eventually exits the streetcar but continues to yell at the other man, who remains silent throughout the confrontation.
Police eventually attended the scene and spoke with both men, but neither wanted to pursue charges.
Griffiths said she and another passenger accompanied the young man until he got off at his stop and praised him for not responding.
“He kept apologizing for wasting our time and causing the streetcar to be delayed. It was a heartbreaking response and he just seemed really disheartened. We were all trying to actively support him,” she said.
TTC Spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 that the driver on the streetcar “did everything he was supposed to do,” including stopping the vehicle and immediately contacting transit control.
Unfortunately, Ross said that incidents like the one on Monday night can happen from time to time.
“Unfortunately there are people like this who are going to ride the system from time to time,” he said. “There is no place for what we saw, the kind of language that was used and the racist overtones or blatant racism. It is completely unacceptable. The TTC needs to be a place where people feel safe and secure at all times.”
Ross said the message following Monday night’s incident, if there is one, is that riders should always report aggressive behavior and avoid getting involved physically.
“We are just glad that it doesn’t appear that anyone was hurt,” he said.
The incident happened the same day that posters promoting racist ideas were found posted around a park in East York and hate-related incidents were reported across the U.S. after the election of Donald Trump.
Trump was seen to have wide backing from white supremacist groups, stoking fears about the possibility of escalating racial tensions.
“In the moment I was angry. I’m still angry, but I’m also very sad,” Griffiths said. “I’m devastated that this is happening. I’m afraid of what’s going to continue to happen.”
[WARNING: Some people may might find the language and/ or content of the videos below disturbing]