HOLLA ON THE GO: Racist Lady Verbal Harassment For Smoking in Public Spaces in Chinatown SF

Yesterday at around 5:30 pm, I was on my last 15 minute break from work (in North Beach) and stepped outside on the side of a curb near a building at the corner of Vallejo Street and Stockton Street. The building that I was standing by was under renovation and did not have a No Smoking Sign as the tenants, construction workers, and nearby employees stood in that area to have their smoke as well. The tenants above never complained about people smoking below and their windows was about 25-30 feet high and were shut. A white lady had passed by and rudely shouts, “Don’t smoke under people’s windows, it’s nasty and you’re disgusting!” I ignored her.

She proceeded to stand a few feet from me and kept shouting at me obnoxiously, “DON’T SMOKE UNDER PEOPLE’S WINDOWS!” She was shouting this at me about five times till I told her to keep walking and leave me alone and that I don’t know her. She then started getting verbally abusive saying, “Don’t smoke under people’s windows. What part of that don’t you understand you stupid bitch!” I told her again to walk away and leave me alone then continued to ignore her. While I am smoking she proceeds to verbally harass me saying repeatedly, “Yeah, you like dick? Suck that white cock!” She kept repeated saying, “Suck that white cock!” Several times before another white lady (now a witness and active bystander) confronts her behavior. She stood up for me saying to the other lady, “What is wrong with you? Why are you harassing him? He has the right to smoke in public…” The harassing lady looks at her and pouts, “Who are you? I’m talking to him because he’s smoking under people’s windows and I don’t like that…” The lady speaking up then walks up to her face and says, “You don’t have to harass him for it. He can smoke on the street, it’s not illegal and you can’t harass other people…” The harassing lady then pouts and declares, “Oh yeah, that’s rich coming from you, a white lady…”

The lady speaking up for me once again tells her that she can’t treat people that way. The harassing lady then shouts, “This is Chinatown and I can do whatever I want! You got a problem?” The lady speaking out then rebukes, “Yes, with YOU harassing other people.” The harassing lady then provokes, “Oh yeah, what are you going to do about it?” The lady speaking up calmly and collectively responded, “There is a police station right across, I can take you there for public harassment.”

I didn’t have my phone on me at that moment to record or take photos of the incident. I was glad that there was a witness to distract and diffuse the verbal abuse and harassment. I choose to disengage after telling her to go away and leave me alone because it’s was not worth it plus I had about 5 minutes left from my break and had to return to work. I wanted to thank the lady who came to my defense but she was confronting the harasser and I wanted to avoid further contact with the harassing lady. I am an Asian-American brown person of color and transgender male btw. I feel public street harassment or harassment in general comes in all forms and shapes. I will use this app in future!

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