East Boston

Woman, Daughter ‘Brutally Attacked' for Speaking Spanish in East Boston: Lawyers

The woman said she and her daughter were attacked, punched, kicked and bitten

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A woman is calling on police to investigate after she and her daughter were allegedly attacked in East Boston this month for speaking Spanish.

According to advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights, the woman and her 15-year-old daughter were “brutally assaulted” by white assailants because they were speaking Spanish near the Maverick Square MBTA station on the evening of Feb. 15.

The entire incident was captured on surveillance video.

“My daughter and I were attacked, punched, kicked, and bitten by two white women,” the woman, identified as Ms. Vasquez, said. “As they beat us, they yelled 'This is America! Speak English!'"

She said they also yelled "go back to your [expletive] country."

"I’m having nightmares," she continued. "I’m afraid to take the train to work, and my family is afraid to speak Spanish in public. My daughter is still wearing a neck brace and she’s having trouble sleeping. We are all very shaken.”

The lawyers’ group said the two required medical attention after the incident.

Ms. Vasquez held a press conference Monday morning to call on police to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

"Yelling to anyone that you need to speak English, you're in American and to go back to your country is xenophobic and racist, and doing so while attacking immigrants is a hate crime and needs to be treated as such," said Janelle Dempsey of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

Boston police said the incident has been referred to their hate crimes unit, but no arrests have been made.

The police report said officers talked with the alleged attackers, who told them they thought Ms. Vasquez was making fun of them. They also admitted they had been drinking and acting belligerent.

Lawyers for Civil Rights said the Vasquez family had not been notified of any arrests or whether the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. The advocates said police did not formally interview the family until legal counsel intervened.

 Community activists said they've received countless similar complaints.

"But most of the members that are complaining are undocumented and they are afraid," said Patricia Montes of Centro Presente, a Latin American immigrant organization. "Last year we received a lot of cases, but nobody cares because they are undocumented and they are invisible and have been invisible."

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