Note: we are republishing this story amid a nationwide conversation about race relations in America.
A 71-year-old woman, who asked to only be identified as Linda, stated that she was assaulted on a Red Line train after she asked a passenger to remove her pocketbook from an empty seat.
She received a blow to the head during the incident, which left her stunned. The incident occurred on a crowded train during an afternoon commute.
“It had been a long week. I said ‘excuse me’ three times, then I got into her face and asked her to move her bag and she said ‘No, I don’t want anyone sitting next to me,’” she told WBZ-TV.
She stated that this was when it got personal.
“You’re an ugly white person,” Linda said the passenger told her.
The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Jada Campbell of Mattapan, was charged with assault, witness intimidation, and disorderly conduct.
Linda stated that she felt threatened and decided to move, but Campbell dropped down from her seat and tripped her.
“She was abusive, ranting and raving ‘I’m going to take you down and have it out,’” she said. Linda decided to get off early at Harvard Square, but Campbell followed her, still ranting and threatening her. Two passengers tried to intervene before MBTA Transit Police became aware of the situation.
“I had two good Samaritans come off with me and they were protective. She came up and said ‘let’s have it out here and now,’ took off her earrings and threw stuff down,” Linda said.
Police later revealed that Campbell resisted arrest and threatened the witnesses who reported the crime: “If I see you on the streets, I’ll murder you.”
“We were all shaking afterward. She was such a force,” Linda stated.
MBTA riders did reveal that bags taking up seats was a common problem, but few had witnessed the anger rise to Campbell’s level.
“Not necessarily angry people, but visibly annoyed,” Sarah Jenkins stated. “But I’ve had no bad experiences like that.”
Linda believes that the MBTA should put up more signs informing passengers that they can’t take up more than one seat.
“I’m worried about her hurting somebody else,” she stated.