A group of teenagers harassed a man and woman of Asian descent, threatened to rob passengers, and smashed windows on a Red Line train at Downtown Crossing on Thursday before getting off at Andrew station in South Boston, police said.
MBTA Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan said the disturbance involved about five teenagers and took place around 10:45 p.m. on an Ashmont-bound train.
The woman who was reportedly harassed was 25; the man was believed to be between 55 and 60, Sullivan said.
“A witness stated that the juvenile subjects approached the victim and began making fun of her for being Asian,” Sullivan said. “They were taunting her based on her ethnicity. They were trying to mimic an Asian accent.... They also threatened to rob some people on the train.”
Sullivan said the teenagers also harassed the man, who was riding in another part of the car, and made “derogatory statements about his ethnicity,” Sullivan said. The teenagers smashed windows on the car.
Sullivan declined to provide descriptions of the suspects, who are believed to 15 to 17 years old, to allow detectives to identify and arrest them.
“We take this extremely seriously and we’re going to dedicate all resources to the identification of all parties involved, and we will seek the appropriate charges,” he said. “Transit Police are committed to safeguarding the constitutional rights of everyone regardless of age, race, gender, or ethnicity. We will not tolerate incidents such as this.”
9/21 11PM several juvenile males onboard an #MBTA RL train near JFK were harassing, threatening to rob passengers & taunting individuals allegedly based on their ethnicity. Juveniles smashed out train window & fled. TPD Detectives actively investigating. Charges will be sought. pic.twitter.com/uD36wQLxvL— MBTA Transit Police (@MBTATransitPD) September 22, 2023
Sullivan said he will consult with Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden’s office to determine whether the teenagers will be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime laws.
The woman stayed on the train and met with Transit Police at the JFK/UMass station in Dorchester, the next stop after Andrew on the Red Line. An officer gave the woman a ride home in a cruiser.
“We provided a courtesy transport to her home because she did not feel safe walking home knowing that the group was out in the street,” Sullivan said. The man continued on the train and was not interviewed by police, he said.
Sullivan said that while the number of serious crimes reported on the transit system has not increased in recent years, “When you’re victimized, that’s of little consequence to you.
“We are going to exhaust all resources and identify and locate the individuals responsible for this conduct.”