The deputy commissioner of New York City’s Commission on Human Rights said she feels “sad,” “numb,” and “violated” after enduring a disgustingly racist attack on the subway last week. What’s worse, she says no one stepped in to help.
Marissa Jackson of the Bronx detailed the “awful attack” in a series of tweets over the weekend, writing how she was spat on and cursed by a man on the train Friday. Jackson, 33, added that her local police weren’t much help when she reported the incident the following day.
The drama unfolded after the deputy commissioner boarded the No.1 train with a family member around 9:30 a.m. That’s when she says a stranger began harassing her.
“I ignored him and focused on keeping my husband’s aunt safe, as she is visiting from Senegal for the first time and is vulnerable,” Jackson wrote on Twitter. “Not receiving a reaction from me, he called me an ugly n—-r b—h and spit in my face & hair.”
Jackson added that the man repeatedly stepped in and out of the train car and appeared to leave before turning around and “spitting directly into the train, directly and intentionally at me, spitting in my face and hair and coat and yelling. He then left.”
She and her aunt in-law left the train shortly afterward, getting off at the next stop at 34th Street and Times Square.
Recalling the incident, Jackson said even as the man attacked her, made fun of her hair, told her she was “worthless and that no man would want her,” not a single rider on the train intervened on her behalf.
“The only person who stood up was another Black guy who came on to busk and was harassed, too,” she wrote. “But he got off the train. Everyone else just watched. Nobody took a photo. Nobody took a video. Nobody offered me a seat.”
Despite her screams for someone to call 911, Jackson said fellow passengers told her that wasn’t necessary. Instead, a Black woman brought her wet wipes and some hand sanitizer while another insisted she would be just “fine.”
Jackson wasn’t fine, however, and said the attack has left her feeling “broken.”
“People really underestimate how vulnerable black women are in public spaces,” she wrote, revealing this isn’t the first time she’s been harassed on the NY subway “by a stranger who specifically hates black women. [It] Probably won’t be the last.”
Jackson said things only got worse from there. She mustered up the courage to file a police report at the 44th Precinct on Saturday only to leave with no report being made. The deputy commissioner, who oversees civil bias response for the city, said she had to beg officers to simply acknowledge her.
“They were nice once they did,” she wrote. “[They] first tried to discourage me from reporting because I have no identifying info on my attacker. After 90 mins of waiting.”
On Twitter, she described the stranger as a man “of medium height and build, with curly dark hair, a beard, and what I would call olive or light brown skin–not obviously belonging to one race or another.”
On Monday, NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Edward Delatorre finally reached out to Jackson and urged her to contact his office. The New York Post reported that a police report was filed at around noon, an NYPD spokesperson later confirming that an investigation into the incident was underway.
“The NYPD is investigating what happened here,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement. “There is no place for hate in NYC, and anyone who is a victim of a crime will have their case investigated fully.”
After speaking out, Jackson said she feared she might lose her job “because you’re never secure when you’re Black.”
The Commission on Human Rights addressed the incident in the following statement:
“The NYC Commission on Human Rights takes all acts of hate and bias seriously and fights every day to protect New Yorkers from discrimination and harassment. The Commission also regularly works with the NYPD following bias incidents to ensure that victims get the resources and help they need and will continue to work with the department to make sure all New Yorkers are safe, supported, and protected.”