Jeanne Heo, a Korean-American program director for a community art space in downtown Los Angeles, was riding the metro for a meeting in North Hollywood when she encountered a racist Trump-supporter. She knew something was off about the white male who suddenly approached her and asked, "Are you tired? You look sleepy."
Ignoring him did not prevent the harassment. It was only the beginning.
"This guy approached me on the metro and asked if I was American, if I spoke English. I replied yes and ignored him," Heo tweeted.
Heo, 29, told Buzzfeed that the man persisted by asking her, "Do you speak English? Are you American?" She offered nothing beyond answering, "yes."
It was then that she noticed two other male witnesses in the same car observing her dilemma. They knew this guy was already trouble.
Unfortunately, when Heo got off the red line, the man continued pestering her with more questions, "Where are your genetics from? Are you Korean?"
Heo took out her smartphone and captured the taunting that turned into a hate-crime level verbal assault. He hurled racial epithets and said, "You're ugly and you have a flat face and a ugly nose" and "Fuck you, go back to Asia," while waving the middle finger at her.
He praised Donald Trump, and chanted, "Let's nuke you, Trump, god bless Trump, we're going to nuke you guys."
In the video, Heo is clearly someone who doesn't put up with B.S. "Why the f*ck are you talking to me, ***hole!"
But she promptly got some help in what she called, "Immediate street justice."
What you don't see on the video is one of the two men, who witnessed the prior harassment on the train, punching the offender in his face.
Sadly, the racial taunting didn't end with a fist to the face.
The man who dealt the blow was African-American, and according to Heo, the racist yelled at his assailant, "Get back in your cage, you n*ggers are all the same."
Twitter responded by expressing their outrage over the incident.
@jeanneheo I am SO sorry you had to be exposed to this ugliness!!!— Renee (@Renee)1517949743.0
@jeanneheo I am so sorry this happened to you. He is disgusting. Good for you for standing up for yourself. I am ac… https://t.co/AAuEEDczUJ— Aimee Giese (@Aimee Giese)1517951878.0
@Greeblehaus @jeanneheo It’s not the country that’s an embarrassment, but a relatively small group of people who ar… https://t.co/GVfcxkh8cT— And the resistance continues... (@And the resistance continues...)1517959817.0
Heo decided not to report the incident to authorities. Instead, her viral Twitter post was enough. She told Buzzfeed:
A lot of people think I've been victimized. I don't feel like I'm victimized, I'm very proud of the way I handled the situation.
A viewer of Heo's video recognized the aggressive man as a fellow 24 Hour Fitness gym member. Kaj-Erik Eriksen said, "Everyone knows who this guy is because he wears those aviator sunglasses. He always wears those jeans."
Eriksen tried to get the gym's representatives to terminate the guy's membership and was told that a manager would look into it.
But, according to Heo, she wondered if that would bring further justice?
If that were to happen, how does that change his ideologies though? How does it get to the source of his hate or his ignorance or his pain or his trauma? I don't know if it does. That might just aggravate his anger towards people who are 'other'. I think it's enough that it went viral and his face is exposed.
Sadly, this was not the first time Heo encountered racism in Los Angeles.
I have experienced racism right here in liberal LA. The last incident was during the holidays, I was leaving Whole Foods and accidentally hit the bumper of the car in front of me. The man got out of his car and looked at me and shouted, 'Oh it'll be easy to report you, you're Asian.
Heo explained that her post was meant to encourage others for empowerment instead of hate.
When this incident happened, I was filled with rage. I wanted to immediately hate White people and lump all White people with this racist fool. But I knew that wasn't it. And doing that would be doing exactly what this guy did with me; lumping all Asians together. This isn't about White people vs. POC. It's easy to spin this to be about Trump supporters vs. liberals, and it's not about that either. This is about ignorance and hate. And ignorance and hate are in all groups, all races, all parties. I shared this post publicly to empower others to stand up for themselves and intentionally didn't mention the race of anyone involved or my political views.