A man and woman in New York have been both fired and arrested for verbally assaulting a family on a train in an incident that police have determined to be a hate crime.
The Daily Voice reported that Justin Likerman and Kristin Digesaro, of Long Island, turned themselves in on Wednesday. They have been charged with aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority said the charges were brought in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Hate Crimes Unit.
Liz Edelkind said that she was taking the Long Island Rail Road with her husband, son, and two other adults to a Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 10, according to NBC 4 New York. While looking for a group of seats, Likerman and Digesaro began to verbally attack them due to Edelkind’s darker complexion and accent, Edelkind said. The couple criticized the group for being immigrants and said they didn’t belong in the U.S.
“They threw beer at us. My pastor…her husband and my husband got in the way to protect me," Edelkind told NBC 4.
A witness captured the assault on video, and it went viral on social media. In the footage, Likerman and Digesaro, who appear to be also going to the game, can be seen hurling verbal jabs after Edelkind and her group boarded. Likerman is heard saying, “Look straight because I’m going to get arrested tonight,” before throwing some sort of liquid.
“Don’t look at me, don’t fucking look at me,” Likerman said repeatedly. “These fucking foreigners ain’t taking over my country.”
After alerting the conductor on duty, Edelkind said the couple left.
On Wednesday, NBC 12 The Bronx reported that Likerman and Digesaro had been fired from their jobs at Empire Toyota in Huntington.
In a Facebook post on Jan. 13, Empire Toyota wrote that the company was “outraged by the event involving two of its employees.”
“The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident,” the post read. “As our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated. The heart and soul of our labor force is extremely diverse and we value our employees beyond description. Further, our company’s deep support—financial and in-kind—of Long Island’s diverse communities is a matter of public record. We can say without hesitation that whatever occurred on that LIRR train is in no way reflective of our company, its ownership, its management team, nor its employees.”
Edelkind said that going to the game was a Christmas present for her 10-year-old son, who she said was left scared and on edge.
After hearing that the couple was arrested, she said that she felt vindicated.
“Justice prevails,” she told NBC 4.