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.
“[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.
“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.
These incidents are horrible. If caught these people should be charged with hate crimes. Prayers for this bus driver
— Dawn Tassoni (@DawnTassoni) July 31, 2020
No descriptions of the perps? Cameras in the area?
— Pavulous (@pavulous) July 31, 2020
We can’t let this type of action take place in The United States. Many Americans including me have been deployed all over the world to make sure this doesn’t happen to our people. Whether you like it or not we are all family living in the same house.🌎
— John Perez (@jperezjr70) July 31, 2020
Some indicated concerns about staying safe while providing a public service.
I work security in an office building. What am I supposed to do when they don't have a mask? If I refuse them entry I'm on my own. The client won't take my side. If the cops even come they idiots are already on the elevator & gone. Why risk my safety for an unenforceable law?
— Shawn Roberts (@CaptScarecrow2) July 31, 2020
There have to be cameras on the bus to identify those idiots
— Travis Jones Jr (@87SPSection) July 31, 2020
What is wrong with people, it sounds like this bus driver was trying to do his job
— Bekka Sloan (@BekkaSloan) July 31, 2020
More needs to be done to ensure all people are safe while doing their jobs.