Two Long Island Rail Road passengers have been charged with a hate crime after a disturbing tirade caught on video showed them calling a family on the train “f—- foreigners.”
The footage shows a man, later identified as Justin Likerman, 37, of Ronkonkoma, verbally attacking the family, who were heading home after a Knicks game on Jan. 10, WNBC reported.
“Look straight. Look straight because I’m gonna get arrested tonight,” he says repeatedly. “Don’t f— look at me. Look straight.”
When another passenger tells him “it’s not worth it,” the man says, “I know it’s not worth it. These f—- foreigners ain’t taking over my f—– country.”
Liz Edelkind told the outlet that she was traveling with her 10-year-old son, her husband and two other people when they were attacked after asking some passengers if they could move seats to allow them to sit together.
“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 told WNBC, adding that she believes they were targeted because of her accent and skin color.
“They threw beer at us. My pastor and her husband, and my husband, got in the way to protect me,” Edelkind said. “How dare they assume because I look or sound different that I am not a US citizen.”
She said the couple left after a conductor was notified of the incident.
Likerman and Kristin Digesaro, 39 of Huntington, turned themselves in to MTA police at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday, the Daily Voice reported.
They were charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime and endangering the welfare of a child.
Likerman and Kristin Digesaro also have been fired from their jobs at Empire Toyota in Huntington.
“Empire Toyota ownership and management were outraged by the event involving two of its employees this past Monday night on the Long Island Railroad,” the company said in a statement on Facebook.
“The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident, and, as our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated,” it said.
“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,” the dealership continued.
“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,” it added.
Edelkind told WNBC that when she heard of the arrests, she “felt validated as a human, as a woman, as a US citizen. Justice prevails.”
She said the disturbing incident also was captured by an LIRR camera that the MTA police and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office used in the probe.
“Those words that come out their mouths don’t come out unless you have hatred in your heart,” Edelkind told the outlet. “The attack was completely unprovoked, a situation they created.”
She added: “I want to show people, you have a voice, use it. If you’re not using your voice to stand against those oppressing you, then you are standing with them.”