After a video of a woman spewing racist language at a group of South Asian women in Texas went viral Wednesday, authorities announced her arrest Thursday. According to a statement by Plano police, Esmeralda Upton was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and terroristic threats in connection to the incident that occurred in the parking lot of Plano, Texas, restaurant Sixty Vines. Authorities added that the attack was also being investigated as a hate crime.
Shared on Facebook by one of the victims, video footage of the incident had more than 185,000 views by Friday morning and thousands more across additional social media platforms.
The video shows a woman, who describes herself as Mexican American, shouting racist comments at a group of South Asian women, saying: "We don't want you here" and "if things are so great in your country, then stay there.” Upton can also be heard shouting: "I hate you fucking Indians.”
Things then take a violent turn when she appears to repeatedly strike one of the women, who is filming the incident, and later at least two others as they record and call the police. In some clips of the incident, Upton is even seen assaulting one of the women as she refuses to stop recording. Putting her hand in her own purse, Upton threatens, “I’m going to fucking shoot your ass.”
Upton seemed to not only have an issue with the women's appearance, but their accent. In footage of the incident, Upton can also be seen saying that though she identifies as Mexican, she was born in the U.S. and thus demanded to know if the women were born in the country or not.
When one of the women asks “What makes you think we’re not Americans?”, Upton replies saying, “Because of the way you speak.”
The victims were identified as Bidisha Rudra, Rani Banerjee, Sabori Saha, and Anamika Chatterjee.
In her viral Facebook post, Banerjee said:
“Go back to India. You curry-assed people are ruining this country”.
Dinner with friends ended with a frightening experience. As we left Sixty Vines, Plano and headed towards our cars, an angry, drunk woman came at us with hateful racial slurs and even physically attacked us. We called 911 and thankfully the cops arrived in minutes.
I have lived in DFW for 29 years and never have I felt so humiliated, threatened, and scared for my life. Can’t believe this is what America has become.
While recounting the ordeal, Banerjee told WFAA that she and her friends were in the parking lot after eating dinner when “suddenly, we heard this woman yelling at us and started coming toward us. We were shocked by the racial slurs that she used and combative attitude.”
Others including Rudra also spoke up about how the incident made them feel.
In a Facebook post, Rudra said the that group had "feared for [their] lives because she was extremely agitated and seemed totally out of control."
"A lot of people are asking what triggered this behavior," Rudra wrote. "Answer is ‘nothing’. We were talking amongst ourselves when she walked by and made a racially insinuating comment. And kept coming back to add additional insults as captured in the video. This unprovoked attack terrifies us even more."
In an interview with CBS News, she added: “I feel extremely humiliated that could have happened in a place like this[...] She just said ‘go back where you came from’ and she used some harsh [language] and then she walks right up to us.”
Prior to charges being announced, several advocates from different communities spoke up after seeing the video.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the incident and issued the following statement calling on police to charge the woman.
“As a Mexican-American, I’m appalled that someone would dare use my people’s name to spread hate,” said Nahela Morales, a Mexican American and Board Member of CAIR-DFW. “As people of color, we need to stand together in solidarity to build bridges of love and understanding, not to bring each other down. To the woman in the video, I want to say you don’t speak for our community or me; shame on you. I encourage you to learn about the shared culture between South Asians and Mexicans.”
After viewing the video, Plano City Councilman Shelby Williams described it as “reprehensible.”
“No one—NO ONE—should be faulted for seeking opportunity and a better life in America. People have been seeking freedom and opportunity here since before America was America,” he said in a Facebook post. “I don’t know whether the ladies in this video are American citizens or guests, but it doesn’t matter—they are deserving of respect and dignity, which they did not receive in this exchange except from the top-notch Plano Police.”
He added: “For the record, our Indian community contributes enormously to our country, and pays more taxes per capita than most other tax-paying blocs. If you are the woman hurling epithets in this video, or if this describes you, do better.”
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