The recipient of the verbal attacks was Chris Cody’s Uber driver, Cody told The Washington Post. The incident on Crescent Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens happened Thursday morning, just before the Uber driver picked up Cody in Manhattan.
Cody, a St. Johns University adjunct professor who speaks Arabic, said he found out about the incident after striking up a conversation with his Uber driver, whom he knows only by his first name, Mohammed. He said his driver was surprised to meet an American who said “hello” to him in his language and doesn’t have anything against Muslims. Mohammed started opening up, Cody said.
“Right before I picked you up, I had a horrible incident,” Cody recalled his driver saying.
“What happened?” Cody asked.
“Let me show you,” Mohammed said, showing the 40-second clip to his passenger.
Based on Mohammed’s account to Cody, he and the other driver ended up next to each other at a stop light on Crescent Street. The man can be heard cursing after seeing Mohammed, who recorded the incident with his phone.
“You’re a loser. You’re not even from here, [expletive]!” the man said. “[Expletive] you and your family you terrorist [expletive]!”
The man flashed a middle finger as he drove away.
Cody, who’s also a doctoral student studying modern world history at St. Johns University, said Mohammed told him the attack was unprovoked.
“I could tell he was upset,” Cody said. “He didn’t tell me exactly why he decided to take a video. I think he was just so shocked by what happened.”
Cody said that Mohammed was initially hesitant, but that he was able to persuade him to send the video to him, so Cody could share it on social media. He said Mohammed was unsure about reporting the incident to police and does not want his full name to be known.
“There’s definitely some Islamophobic and anti-Muslim sentiment out there right now,” Cody said. “I don’t blame him for being intimidated, especially with the stuff coming out of that guy’s mouth.”
Cody said Mohammed told him he moved from Morocco about six or seven years ago and has been living in New York City since.
The video has gone viral on Facebook. Cody said he sent it to his friend Karim Metwaly, a YouTube actor, who then posted the clip to his Facebook fan page. The video had been viewed more than 3 million times and shared about 40,000 times as of Sunday morning.
Cody also sent the video to The Post.
New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D), who represents Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ridgewood and Woodhaven, has publicly condemned the actions of the other driver.
“In this community, we pride ourselves on our diversity and tolerance. Hateful rhetoric should not be tolerated in a neighborhood where all races and different beliefs are welcome,” Gianaris wrote on Facebook on Friday. “More than ever, now is the time to unite and organize. We will stand together against cowardly attacks and show that our values and vision for our country will triumph over hate.”
The Arab-American Family Support Center in New York also has publicly criticized the other driver, saying that “racism and anti-Muslim bigotry are real threats to our community.”
The incident occurred just a few days after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said his state is a refuge for those who think they are under attack.
“Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people in the state of New York,” Cuomo wrote on Facebook last week. “It’s the very core of what we believe and who we are. … We don’t allow a federal government that attacks immigrants to do so in our state.”
Cuomo also announced Sunday that he is directing the New York State Police to create a special unit that will specifically address hate crimes.
Reports of intimidation and harassment have spiked since Election Day. The Southern Poverty Law Center has tallied 701 such incidents as of Friday. The hate watch group, however, cautions that not all incidents have direct references to Trump and not every report could be independently verified.
Many were allegedly committed in Trump’s name and directed toward immigrants, African Americans, Muslims and other minorities. Anti-Semitic vandalism with swastikas that appears to be in support of Trump has been reported in several states, including New York.
The hate watch group also has tracked 27 anti-Trump incidents as of Friday.
In Texas, two high school students were reprimanded for staging a skit depicting Trump being assassinated. In California, the former chief executive of a San Diego start-up company resigned after attracting criticism for threatening Trump’s life in a series of Facebook tirades on election night. In Ohio, a 24-year-old man is facing a federal charge for allegedly threatening Trump’s life on Twitter. It’s unclear whether these incidents are included in the hate watch group’s tally.
The president-elect’s victory was followed by a wave of anti-Trump protests in several cities nationwide. Thousands took to the streets for several days after the election, holding signs that say “Not My President.”
Trump has said that he intends to be “president of all Americans.”
During a recent “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl, Trump said he’s saddened to hear about the reports of intimidation and harassment. He called on those committing hateful acts in his name to “stop it.”