A viral video of a man who harassed and slapped an American on an MRT train earlier this week has prompted an outpouring of support from Singaporeans for the victim.
Joe DeMarini, who is on a working holiday here as a TV development producer, told Yahoo Singapore on Friday (21 April) that he was touched by the encouraging messages from Singaporeans.
“I’ve received hundreds of messages from total strangers saying, ‘We hope you are OK’, ‘Please file a police report’, ‘This isn’t Singapore’, ‘It’s not your fault’. So I don’t feel bad about it anymore,” said DeMarini.
A number of Singaporeans praised DeMarini, 25, for not retaliating against the man during the incident. In one message, a Singaporean told DeMarini, “I would rather have you in Singapore than that uncle.”
The American was travelling with a female friend in a train on the North East Line towards Serangoon MRT station on Wednesday night when the incident happened. DeMarini recounted the incident in a video post on his Facebook page, which has garnered more than 1 million views and shared almost 17,000 times since it was posted on Thursday morning.
The man, who claimed to be gay, was heard taunting DeMarini in the video and saying, “I’m your friend. I want you to f**k me tonight.” The man accosted and touched DeMarini despite the American telling him not to do so. “Singapore is not like America, we can touch you,” the man said.
A Caucasian woman was seen walking over to the man and trying to calm him down. The man persisted in approaching DeMarini, saying, “I’m very touchable…Can I kiss you? I want to kiss you now.”
After being told off by DeMarini, the man slapped the American, prompting another male commuter to intervene in an attempt to stop the harassment.
DeMarini told Yahoo Singapore that he and his friend boarded the train at Chinatown MRT station and they sat in the middle of a carriage.
Before the incident happened, DeMarini noticed the man was sitting on a priority seat and trying to talk to a woman seated next to him. After the woman moved away, the man walked towards DeMarini and stood in front of him. His first words to DeMarini were, “I like you”, according to the American.
On Friday, DeMarini went to a police station to lodge a report about the incident.
“The reason why I went to the police to submit a report is that if he does it again and gets caught, I want them to have more evidence against him. I don’t want someone else to go through what I went through.”
Despite the incident, DeMarini hopes to extend his six-month working stint in Singapore. The American, who has been in Singapore for the past two months, first visited the Republic more than three years ago during a short holiday and found it to be a “cool” city.
DeMarini said, “The incident could have happened anywhere, it just happened to be here. I’m not going to let it change my views of the people of Singapore. I’m very positive about Singapore.”
Source: YNews Singapore
Direct Facebook Post from the victim
Hey Singapore friends: just a heads up, this guy physically assaulted me on the MRT, so if you ever see him, be on your guard. I was with a friend and he approached me–drunk–and said he was gay, and that he wanted to fuck me. He said, “I know you’re gay, so let’s fuck.”
This went on for several minutes and I tried to politely diffuse the situation, but then he began to yell at my friend when she intervened; I wouldn’t let this stand, and started to become angry myself. He threatened her, and some other people on the train intervened (several were filming). He touched me, and I told him not to, and I briefly lost my temper–after that he slapped me on the side of the head. He kept going on and on, and when a woman tried to take his picture, he attempted to kick her phone out of her hand. When my friend and I got off at our stop, he got off as well, but we managed to evade him and leave the station without him following us.
For those of you that don’t know: I’m not gay (not that it should matter). However, I don’t exactly fit the “masculine” mold of society, so oftentimes I am mistaken as queer–on several occasions around the world, for example, I’ve caught flak for carrying a “man purse.” On a personal level, this is why I need feminism: so I can be confident in myself and not feel like I have to fulfill any gender role assigned to me. However, I do appreciate that women probably have to deal with this shit (or at least the threat of it) on a fairly regular basis.
For those asking “Why didn’t you fight back or call the police?” I say, “I am a white immigrant in a country where I do not have citizenship and am a minority–law enforcement may not take my side, despite video and photo evidence.” This is something I learned while living in South Korea, where no amount of assimilation will protect you when a Korean is arguing against you. In this situation, there’s a chance I would’ve been accused of inciting violence, and been charged accordingly.
I feel pretty awful about this–it’s after 2:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep; I can’t even bring myself to watch the video. Is that normal? In a sick sense, I feel lucky to have this recorded: it’s proof! And others have recorded it as well! Some people would die for that kind of evidence!
Yet here I am, too embarrassed and too ashamed to watch it.
A slap on the head is nothing, really, but I feel completely unsettled–Singapore has been a trial by fire since my first day, and this doesn’t help. In all honesty, I’m a bit tipsy and have no idea what I’m feeling.
I wish I’d said thank you to the train people who took a stand and put themselves between me and this man, but I was too rattled to muster it (at least I could thank my friend, who had the good sense to make a video). I wish I’d sat in a different train car, and the whole situation could’ve been avoided. Was it the V-neck I was wearing? My ripped skinny jeans? I probably should have held my temper, but that’s not my character. Could I have found a way to peacefully diffuse the whole situation? It’s obviously not my fault but, somehow, a part of me is convinced it was.
Anyway, I have work in the morning, so the only thing to do is press on (or at least try to get some sleep). I’ve accomplished more in a few years than I could’ve ever imagined, and I’ve met so many amazing and supportive people along the way–I can’t really let the few bastards of the world stop me, can I?
– 9News Nigeria