Pols hold conference, interfaith solidarity bus ride following racist rant by woman on S53 bus

Standing in solidarity was the message in Bay Ridge on Sunday, July 15.

Expressing outrage after a woman was caught on video verbally harassing another woman for being Muslim on the S53 bus that travels between Bay Ridge and Staten Island, local elected officials and religious leaders took a stand by holding a press conference at the Bay Ridge S53 bus stop and an interfaith solidarity bus ride on the very same bus.

Borough President Eric Adams was joined by Councilmember Justin Brannan and others including educator and activist Debbie Almontaser and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik at the event.

“We will not remain silent whenever racism or hatred delivers or shows its face in this city,” said Adams. “Today it was a person who wore a hijab. Tomorrow it’s a person who wears a yarmulke or a kufi or a person who’s merely trying to move from one place to the next. What happened on that video was alarming and is setting a tone of a mean-spirited atmosphere that seems to have come out of Washington D.C. and found its way…to Brooklyn where the overwhelming number of people come from some form of the immigration population. It is time to empower everyday New Yorkers on what they should do and what they could do.”

The video was posted on Youtube on Wednesday, July 11; in it, the woman yelled at the hijab-clad passenger, “You’re no citizen. You can’t even speak English. Hi I’m Ashley. If you’re taping me, I’m getting into a fight with some Muslim chick because she has an attitude because she thinks she has rights that she doesn’t have. Oh, immigration is at the the door. Is that ICE?”

“Seeing the video of a woman unleashing ugly anti-Muslim hate on an MTA bus traveling from my district to Staten Island made me disgusted and ashamed,” Brannan added. “Now is not the time to be silent. We have an obligation to stick up for each other and stand up to hate in all its manifestations.”

Brannan added that he was not only disturbed by the video but disappointed in the reaction of straphangers. “When I first saw the video of the incident, I was ashamed and disgusted… not only for the woman in the video who clearly had so much hate and fear in her heart, but for the people on the bus who for whatever reason didn’t want to stand up,” he said.

Adams concurred.

“We don’t want New Yorkers hurt,” added Adams. “There’s a way to intervene without getting in the way of a police officer doing his or her job. ‘See Something, Say Something’ is not only about an explosive device that is planted, but it is an explosive activity that can hurt someone else. It is extremely intimidating and frightening to have someone target you merely because of the way you dress, speak or look. We don’t want that on our transportation system. A trip across the Verrazano Bridge cannot destroy the bridges that we have created in this borough. What happened on that bus cannot happen in a city as diverse as Brooklyn.”

“Thank you @JustinBrannan and BP @BPEricAdams for standing up for Brooklyn and Staten Island Muslim American women,” tweeted Almontaser afterwards. “Now I can rest easy as a professor at @csinews. My students deserve to learn free of fear.”


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