'Go Back to China': Driver Makes Racist Gestures at Korean-American Veteran in Fremont
A Korean-American man, who was apparently driving too slow for another motorist, wound up on the receiving end of a racist rant in California, according to video and the driver’s account.
James Ahn was driving in Fremont last week, and as he was changing a lane, another motorist kept driving toward his car and cutting in front of his vehicle to slam on the brakes, he wrote in the Monday Facebook post. Ahn says he was driving at the set speed limit of 35 mph.
But what may have first seemed to be road rage started to look and sound more like a hate crime, Ahn said. A backseat passenger started filming the woman, who was shown stretching her eyes to slant them, a racist and offensive gesture, the video shows.
“This is not your f–king country. This is my country,” the woman says in the video.
She can also be heard saying, “Oh my God, Chinese ugly, ugly...” the video shows. Ahn is from Seoul, South Korea, according to his Facebook profile.
Ahn, a member of the Air Force Reserve, told the Huffington Post he was too shocked to say anything. But he shared the video because he wanted residents to know “for their safety.” Facebook appears to have removed the video, but later restored it.
Ahn said on Facebook that he planned to file a hate crime charge against the unidentified woman. The New York Post says he reported it Wednesday.
Police say she didn't break the law.
“What we have here is hate speech,” police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques told the Post. "And we met with her, and she does not deny that she did any of this. But she claims he started it by saying to go back to her country.” Ahn denied that claim to the Huffington Post.
Investigators didn’t have cause to bring reckless driving charges against the woman or Ahn, Bosques told the Post.
“You could call this hate speech but as horrible as it is — and we clearly don’t condone any of it — it is protected by the First Amendment,” she said. “The other piece of this is that these two motorists were driving in traffic yelling at each other, and the situation could’ve been worse for other drivers around them.”
Though the woman in this case hasn’t been charged, a Long Island man involved in a similar incident in New York last month is facing a hate crime offense.
Edward Ruggiero was allegedly caught on camera unleashing a racist rant against a black woman who he thought was talking too loudly on a train, officials said. He allegedly threatened to "smack the [expletive] out of you, you loud mouth monkey [expletive],” according to NBC New York.
The woman who posted the video alleges Ruggiero also got into the young woman's face to scream at her — something the video didn't capture, she said.
He’s charged with menacing as a hate crime, the news station said.