Three brothers in Portland, Oregon, were riding a city train when they noticed something out of the ordinary.
Emilio Herrera, 21, and his younger brothers, Romeo, 18, and Pablo, 17, rode the train from Beaverton to Portland on Saturday evening when they heard an angry man hurling racial slurs. When they looked up, they saw a man verbally attacking a Black woman and her toddler.
"I see this fairly big man yelling," Emilio Herrera told Oregon Live. "That man was just yelling at this woman, yelling the n-word, kind of being belligerent."
Then the boys decided to take a risk and approach the man; however, they knew they should film the interaction for their own safety. When they stood in front of the man and the woman, later identified as 27-year-old Nitasha Sweaney, the man turned his attention to the three young Hispanic men.
"He asked us what the f we were going to do about it," said Herrera. When asked why the boys didn’t call the police, Herrera honestly said, "I watch the news, we're three young brown kids so I didn't know how that would turn out."
The brothers decided the best alternative would be to ask the man to get off the train. Eventually, the man got off at the next stop, but after a few seconds passed, he got back on and told the boys to delete their video. Herrera claimed that the man pushed the boys, but they did not push back.
The man finally left the train for good and the train continued to move.
After the boys posted the video online, Sweaney came forward to tell her side of the story. She was returning home from a party with her daughter and her godmother. She said a man approached them asking for money. When they said they could not help, the man became angry.
“[He] came about a foot away from us and was yelling racial slurs and cussing in our face,” said Sweaney. “At this point, the only thing I could do was hold my daughter tightly and cover her ears.”
Sweaney was thankful that the boys came up and distracted the man. Once the video went public, she privately contacted them and expressed her gratitude.
Mary Fetsch, a spokesperson for the TriMet train system, has said, “We are disturbed by the individual's behavior, and in this type of situation it's appropriate for riders to contact the operator and request police to respond or call 9-1-1 directly."
(Photo: Design Pics / Craig Tuttle/Getty Images)