A viral video of a driver in Fremont, California, who was caught yelling racially-charged comments and making derogatory gestures against Asians has sparked outrage and debate over whether it crossed a legal line into hate speech.
The driver the tirade was directed at – a Korean-American Air Force veteran – thinks it’s a hate crime, but Fremont police say it’s a case of two drivers behaving badly and no laws were broken.
Fremont resident James Ahn posted the video on his Facebook page on May 21, where it has since received tens of thousands of views.
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“I was driving in Fremont last week and this lady started the racial harassment while threatening me on the road only because I wasn’t driving fast enough for her,” he wrote.
Ahn told NBC Bay Area he was simply driving when she started yelling … and he thinks she was upset because he was driving too slow.
“I got scared and I told my passenger to start recording because it looked like she was going to crash me at some point,” he said.
“As I changed the lane, she kept driving towards my car gesturing to crush me and cutting in front of me to slam on the break,” Ahn wrote. “I later realized that this was more like a hate crime than a road rage.”
At one point, the woman asks Ahn to go back to his country.
“This is not your f_____ country,” the woman said. “This is my country.”
In the nine-second clip, you can hear the woman making fun of Ahn’s appearance:
“Oh my God, Chinese ugly, ugly Chinese,” according to the nine-second clip, which has now been viewed tens of thousands of time.
Ahn complained to Fremont police and turned the video over to them.
The police department says the woman accused of making the hateful comments in the video now says she’s being harassed and threatened in person and online. She also claims she’s not the only one who said something racist that day.
The department says they met with her and she took full responsibility for the behavior, but she claims that Ahn made racist comments to her “first” as she tried to pass his car on the road, and that’s why she responded:
In a statement posted to Twitter, Fremont police said:
“We investigated, took statements from both parties, but could not establish a crime. Sadly, hate speech in and of itself is not a crime.”
But the Fremont Police Department is responding to hundreds of comments on Twitter from locals asking why the police took no action.
We’ve received a lot of feedback regarding this post and agree that we could have done better,” they tweeted.
The department also said the woman in this video has offered to formally apologize to Ahn, but he refused the meeting and apology.
“Hopefully, she gets fined or potentially go to jail,” he said.
The video also caught the attention of Congressman Eric Swalwell who tweeted that the woman does not represent the city of Fremont.
“I proudly represent #Fremont in Congress. This woman does not represent Fremont, which is a diverse, inclusive community. But she’s a reminder of the hate that still exists in America and the work we all have ahead. Thank you, James Ahn, for your service to America,” Swalwell said.
Many have become aware of a disturbing incident that occurred in Fremont. We investigated, took statements from both parties, but could not establish a crime. Sadly hate speech in and of itself is not a crime.
This incident is not reflective of our diverse & compassionate City. pic.twitter.com/hM0dQ7A4A1
— Fremont Police Department (@FremontPD) May 25, 2018
I proudly represent #Fremont in Congress. This woman does not represent Fremont, which is a diverse, inclusive community. But she’s a reminder of the hate that still exists in America and the work we all have ahead. Thank you, James Ahn, for your service to America. https://t.co/914HbCw640
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) May 25, 2018
Anousha Rasta contributed reporting.