A Long Island couple has been charged with hate crimes and child endangerment after launching an unprovoked verbal attack against a biracial couple and their 10-year-old son on a commuter train.
According to WNBC, the incident occurred as Liz Edelkind, who is Afro-Latina, was heading home from a Knicks game with her husband, their son and another couple. That’s when Justin Likerman and Kristin Digesaro boarded the train with a group of friends, asking other riders if they could move to allow them to all find seating together.
Upon hearing Edelkind’s accent, the couple started yelling at her, in an incident captured on cell phone cameras and shared to social media.
“The couple started to verbally attack me, calling me curse words, immigrant, that I don’t pay taxes, that I have no rights in this country,” she said. “They threw beer at us. My pastor and her husband, and my husband, got in the way to protect me.”
Edelkind added that she didn’t understand what was happening because she hadn’t had any personal interactions with Likerman and Digesaro prior to the altercation.
MTA Police tells the New York Post that the couple turned themselves in on Wednesday afternoon. Likerman has been charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime and endangering the welfare of a child, while Digesaro faces one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
They have also both been fired from the Huntington car dealership where they both worked.
“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,” Empire Toyota said in a statement on Facebook.
Upon hearing of the arrest, Edelkind says she felt “validated as a human, as a woman, as a U.S. citizen.” She hopes her situation will encourage others to standup to bigotry.