“Are you white?”
A black transgender woman allegedly pepper-sprayed at least 11 people on the streets of New York over the weekend, screaming: “I fucking hate white people!”
Thomas Heard, a 37-year-old Bronx resident, attacked the white strangers, including two couples, in a rampage Friday and Saturday, according to the New York Police Department. In some of the incidents, she was said to have brandished a knife.
Police arrested Heard on Saturday and charged her with assault, menacing, and harassment, all as hate crimes, and with criminal possession of a weapon.
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The spree allegedly started Friday morning, when police said that Heard pepper-sprayed a 29-year-old man in the face on an underground subway platform in uptown Manhattan. She then allegedly ran up to the street and sprayed four women and a man.
Two of the victims in attacks were taken to the hospital Friday, where they were treated and released.
About an hour later, Heard allegedly pepper-sprayed a 30-year-old woman in the face several stops downtown on the same subway line.
In the afternoon, surveillance footage captured a woman, whom police said was Heard, assaulting Denise Gannaway and her boyfriend Joe Barbuto as they walked in the Bronx. She repeatedly pepper-sprayed and kicked them and shouted about her hatred of white people, police said.
“All of a sudden, I hear this woman yell at me from behind, ‘I hate you, you expletive expletive!'” Gannaway told ABC.
The woman said she screamed for her boyfriend for help, and the couple fled, but the attacker chased them around the corner and continued the attack.
“I saw her pull something out of her pocket. I didn’t know if it was a gun, I didn’t know if it was a knife – I didn’t know what she had,” Gannaway said.
The suspect then fled the scene.
On Saturday, after police released surveillance video and photos of the suspect, Heard allegedly attacked another couple in the same part of the Bronx, which is near her home. She asked the 24-year-old woman, “Are you white?” and then pepper-sprayed her in the face, police said. She also allegedly menaced the woman’s 30-year-old boyfriend with a knife before running off.
The apparently anti-white attacks came as reports of hate crimes have been rising, along with concerns about a culture bigotry against African-Americans and LGBT people. However, after actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and gay, was charged last month with with filing a false police report about a hate crime, some have questioned the extent of the phenomenon.
Police said that Heard has more than 60 prior arrests, most of them for prostitution, public lewdness and turnstile jumping.
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