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Asian American Bus Driver Beaten With Baseball Bats And Spit On For Trying To Enforce Mask Policy

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Last week in San Francisco on the Municipal “Muni” Railway, an Asian American bus driver was assaulted after requesting that several passengers wear their facial coverings.

Three men, who have not been identified, approached the bus without masks on and refused to put them on after boarding.

When they refused, the bus driver, whose name also hasn’t been released, pulled the bus to the side of the road and attempted to escort the three men off of the bus for the safety of the other passengers.

According to the San Francisco Police Department’s report, the men responded by hitting the bus driver with a wooden basement bat repeatedly.

The bus driver said that they also spat on him and used multiple racial slurs while assaulting him.

The men then left the scene without being identified, and none of the passengers were able to confirm which direction they fled.

Officer Robert Rueca of the San Francisco Police Department said this has currently not been filed as a hate crime.

Rueca said: 

“[There is no indication] that race was a factor in this assault.” 

Rueca did, however, confirm that the investigation’s focus could change and potentially qualify the assault as a hate crime.

There has been a significant increase in the number of altercations involving Asian American drivers and other employees in the transportation industry since the beginning of the pandemic.

The President of the Transport Workers Union Local 250, Roger Marenco, requested that passengers assist in situations like this when they feel able.

Marenco confirmed this was a severe assault and that assaults happen on drivers, ranging in severity, on nearly a daily basis. He said passengers can assist in situations like this by verbally encouraging others to wear their face masks or to document instances like this as they arise.

Marenco explained:

“If you see an operator trying to assist with facial coverings, could you please assist the operator, so that he or she is not verbally assaulted or physically attacked, because the operators are just trying to do their job and keep everyone in the bus as safe as possible.” 

The incident was shared on social media, though no videos have surfaced to date.

People were disgusted at the behavior of the three passengers and hoped they get identified. 

Some indicated concerns about staying safe while providing a public service. 

More needs to be done to ensure all people are safe while doing their jobs.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit