A trial has begun for a woman accused of berating and assaulting a woman and her teenage daughter on a Boston street two years ago because they were speaking Spanish.
The case drew national attention and civil rights advocates decried what they feel was a light sentence for one of the women involved, so they are watching the trial closely.
Surveillance video from February 15, 2020, shows an assault on Sara Vasquez and her daughter. It happened in Maverick Square in East Boston and Vasquez said the two women involved yelled racist remarks before attacking.
Assistant District Attorney Amelia Singh detailed the alleged comments in court.
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"'This is America.' 'You have to speak English.' 'Go back to your country.' And then there was also a physical attack that happened to both of the victims," she said.
The victims said they were attacked unprovoked while heading home from a dinner to celebrate the mother’s birthday.
The suspects thought the mother and daughter were making fun of them in Spanish, according to a redacted police report. They also acknowledged they had been drinking, police said.
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One of the women, Jenny Ennamorati, was sentenced to 15 months probation in the case, a sentence that drew criticism for being too lenient, according to some civil rights advocates. The other, Stephanie Armstrong, is fighting the charges.
"Her friend, Jenny Ennamorati, got in a fight. She did not. Some people broke up this fight and brought peace to that fight. She was one of those people," Armstrong's attorney Bill Barabino said.
On the witness stand Vasquez said, through an interpreter, that Ennamorati was not alone in the assault.
"When she was hitting me Stephanie came and started hitting me, too," Vasquez said.
Civil rights organizations are concerned with the outcome of this case.
"We’re worried that hate crimes are in the rise not only locally but nationally and we want to make sure there’s justice in this case so that other people will not fear coming forward and seeing their attacker receive a lenient sentence," Myraida Melendez of Lawyers for Civil Rights said.
The defense just started presenting its case before court recessed. They are set to resume Thursday at 10:30 a.m.