A video of a man apparently cursing and threatening to kill an Iranian couple on a Harlem subway train has sparked a conversation about how to respond to hateful comments and violent threats in public.
In a video post on Facebook, Mahsa Mehrdad described her and Masih Rahmati enduring an onslaught of insults and threats from an unidentified man while riding a C train uptown from Penn Station Saturday night. According to Mehrdad, the man got on at 42nd Street and began cursing loudly at them for no reason.
Mehrdad wrote that she only captured the last minute of the man’s tirade, which lasted all the way up to 125th Street in Harlem and escalated to threats on their lives.
“Talk, talk, talk,” the man says in the video. “Will you talk when I put a f—— bullet in your head?”
Moments later, the man says: “Donald Trump. Donald Trump is in the house.”
He continues to yell obscenities and point at them before standing up and making a direct threat: “I’m going to kill all three of you at one time. You’re no f—— good. Go back to your country, my man.”
It’s unclear who the third person is that he’s referring to.
“We tried to stay calm and ignore him,” Mehrdad wrote. “The whole experience was sad and shocking.”
To end her post, Mehrdad posed a question: “What should we do in a situation like this? Should we remain silent or should we do something? What is a proper action to shut down racist comments while not escalating the situation?”
Mehrdad got a flood of comments in response. Some applauded her decision to stay quiet and record the incident.
“You did the best thing that you could do at the time and that was simply exposing him. You took his power away by not reacting,” Cathy Huffine Vadney wrote.
Others said leaving the train car would have been the best idea.
“There is nothing that you can say in order to peacefully teach someone like this a lesson,” Amir Hossein Hosseini responded. “If you ask me, switch to another train car.”
Some shared similar experiences they had in far ranging places like Minnesota, San Francisco and the United Kingdom.
“Unfortunately this kind of stuff happens in a lot of countries,” Dahlia O’Brien-McQueenie wrote. “So sorry you had to experience such hatred.”
A few people claimed to have seen the man before, saying they’ve spotted him harassing other people in the subway.
Mehrdad and Rahmati didn’t report being injured in the incident, but the disturbing video serves as a reminder for people to think about how they might react in a similar situation.