A Houston couple trying to enjoy a morning stroll on Tuesday was confronted by a man spouting a racist and antisemitic diatribe in broad daylight, a verbal attack caught on camera.
The watchdog StopAntisemitism tweeted about the troubling rant.
CONTENT WARNING ⚠️ – antisemitic, racist rant caught on film:
“Take your Jewish technology and film me boy … Jewish couple … Jewish couple … Motherf*cker … JewSA … the Jews … like all white girls that date n*ggers, Mexicans”
We are in the process of identifying this man. pic.twitter.com/0ldbM80W8t— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) June 8, 2022
Andy Tran and his fiancée typically walk the sleepy morning streets of Westchase to get their exercise and enjoy the day before the heat of the afternoon. But on Tuesday, their usual relaxing jaunt along Pagewood Lane near South Gessner Road was interrupted when the man—who remains unidentified—started shouting hate speech and other obscenities from across the street, Tran said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
“My bells were getting a little rattled, but we were trying to ignore him,” Tran recalled. “We were also thinking it was a joke at first, because this has never happened to us.”
Tran, who is Asian, and his fiancée, who is white, continued walking. He took note that they were near an elementary school on its last day in session and didn’t want to cause a scene in front of the schoolchildren, he said. The man initially turned around and walked away, Tran explained, but a few blocks down the road, the couple turned around and saw him walking toward them again. That’s when Tran started recording on his phone.
“He was basically going through the whole racist rhetoric book,” Tran said. “He was saying a lot of slurs the first time.”
The man repeatedly used racist slurs for Asian Americans and Black people, as well as derogatorily referred to the couple as “Jews.” Then man also took exception for the couple being interracial, calling his fiancée a “white whore” at least once, Tran said.
Tran, an Army veteran, tried calling the Houston Police Department’s non-emergency line Tuesday morning, but no one answered. He instead worked with a well-connected neighbor who helped find someone within HPD to file a report. Tran shared a photo with Chron showing the HPD slip confirming he made the report. The slip indicates police are investigating the incident as an assault by threat. At one point in the recorded rant, the man told Tran “I’ll beat the f–k out of you.”
The man was seen wearing a green “Be Someone” shirt and had a distinctive tattoo on the inside of his right arm, which could give police clues to his identity.
The incident underscores the lack of reliable data on hate crime and hate incidents across the country, including here in Houston. While HPD reports some information about hate crimes to the FBI as part of its annual crime statistics report, the department doesn’t report on hate-driven incidents that don’t rise to the level of a crime, according to research from Dr. Anita Kalunta-Crumpton, a professor at Texas Southern University.
It is unclear if Houston police will consider this a crime. Tran confirmed that he filed a police report after 5 p.m. Tuesday, when a police spokesperson was unavailable.
Houston police reported 195 hate crimes occurred between 2010 and 2020, according to FBI statistics. But those instances are likely underreported, according to Kalunta-Crumpton’s research titled Hate In Houston commissioned through the Houston Coalition Against Hate in 2020. The report notes that by 2018, hate crime incidents technically decreased, but noted that “hate crimes are largely undercounted, thus suggesting that non-reporting of hate crimes does not automatically mean that hate crimes do not exist.”
Tran said he was shocked at the outburst.
“I’ve never had any problems,” Tran said. “Our neighborhood is actually really diverse. It was just weird. That’s why we were laughing, because it was just so out of nowhere.”
Tran posted the video on Reddit and Nextdoor, where he received a flood of support in the comments. He said they’ll still continue their daily walks, albeit with a little more caution.
“If anything, I just want this guy to get help,” Tran said. “This is all coming from a bad place in his life. Luckily my fiance and I are positive people, fairly light-hearted. If anything, we pity him.”