Transit police in Boston arrested a 16-year-old male on Monday after a group of teens was recorded harassing an Asian American woman with racist language and trying to block her from leaving a train.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police said on social media that the teen was suspected of unarmed assault to rob and assault for the purpose of intimidation.
The police did not release the suspect’s identity because he is a juvenile, and they did not comment further on the incident.
The arrest comes over a week after Vivian Dang, 25, was attacked by a group of unidentified teenagers. A video of the incident shows them hurling racial slurs, mocking Dang in an accent and physically cornering her.
“Can I get some dumplings?” one of the teens can be heard saying with a fake accent. “Can I get some ramen with the egg?”
Police also said that the teens went on to smash a train window before fleeing.
Dang told NBC News that the arrest has prompted some mixed emotions for her, but ultimately she hopes that the incident can lead to more productive conversations around racism and safety on public transit.
“It’s bittersweet. It was a kid, you don’t want to get them in trouble,” she said. “But again, their actions led to this.”
Dang also emphasized that she felt the attack was not caused by just one person, but by a group of people who fed off of one another’s behavior.
“They were saying all those things, they were just laughing about it and I think they wanted to build off of what they thought was funny, what they thought was going to get a chuckle out of their friend,” Dang said. “But at the end of the day those words mean something to people.”
While Dang said she was heartened that three women stepped up to help her in the moment, speaking up on her behalf and comforting her after the attack, she said she hopes that all bystanders will feel a responsibility to help victims.
“Men should be able to hold people accountable and step up next time. It’s never too late,” Dang said. “It’s the beginning and opening conversation of just finding justice and stepping up for other people.”
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