The racist and hate-filled rant against a Black woman riding on the Long Island Rail Road in New York is now under investigation by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.
Passengers said a man ranted for about 10 minutes, spewing racist and sexist slurs directed at another rider, 25-year-old Soraya Orelien.
“He made me feel disgusting,” Orelien said in an interview Friday with
WABC-TV. “He made me feel less than what I am. And I’m not the only one who has experienced this.”
The incident occurred around 10 p.m. on April 19, but the video went viral last week. Orelien was on her cellphone speaking with a friend during her commute that originated at Penn Station. Hearing her talk on the phone enraged the man and he confronted her.
A woman named Aneesa Janat Rafeek, according to her Facebook page, was a passenger on the train that night and posted a video on her page showing a portion of the racist rant, which she also said lasted 10 minutes.
“*Let me be clear about what prompted these nasty remarks*
“An African American woman was behind him speaking on the phone (not loudly in my opinion as I was sitting only diagonally from him and could not hear her).
“He started off by mumbling under his breath and then escalated to yelling at her about being a loud mouth b**ch. When another young woman, also Black, stood up for her, he continued to yell and then call[ed] them monkeys.
“What this video does not show him getting up to get in the young [woman’s] face to scream at her more. It was honestly so disgusting to witness.
“Say what you want in regards to ‘both’ sides being ignorant and needing to be quiet. Have someone start yelling profanities at you for being ‘loud’ and see how you react.”
Orelien told Eyewitness News, “He came to my face and was like, ‘Ooh ooh ahh ahh, you monkey,’ and I just sat there. I just sat there, and I didn’t say anything. I just said, ‘You need to leave. Leave me alone. Please just walk away.'”
The Baruch College senior said she is coming forward and speaking about the incident as a reality check for others.
“I want people to know that this still happens!” Orelien told PIX11 News.
“I’m proud to be a strong Black woman in this day and age, and no one can talk to me like that.”
Sources identified the man as Edward Ruggiero, a Manhattan stagehand and member of Local 1 IATSE, who lives in Long Beach, L.I., according to the NY Daily News. But he denies that it’s him in the video.
Eyewitness News cameras went to the suspected man’s home and confronted him on his porch.
“Get the story straight. Do you want to talk to us You call yourself a journalist get your f****** story straight!” he said. The man rushed inside before reporters could speak with him further.
An LIRR spokesperson told PIX11 in a statement:
“This language is offensive, completely inappropriate, and has no place in our society, let alone on the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA Police are actively investigating this report Anyone who sees a situation like this unfolding should notify a conductor immediately. This absolutely falls under the mantra of: if you see something, say something.”