Maskless man yells about ‘freedom’ while berating and harassing elderly masked woman on train

Maskless man yells about ‘freedom’ while berating and harassing elderly masked woman on train

If anything infuriates people during a global pandemic, it’s having to see other folks wearing masks. Wait, what? No, it doesn’t make sense, and yes, somehow, it’s our reality. While our understanding of the novel coronavirus has shifted since the world began reacting to COVID-19, experts and medical professionals have consistently recommended mask-wearing in public—and especially in indoor, enclosed spaces—for months. However, as Daily Kos has covered, there have been countless instances of people threatening others, becoming violent, and even killing others over masks.

On Monday, a video shared on social media went viral for depicting an unidentified, maskless man harassing a masked older woman while both rode the subway in New York City. On the Q, the man chanted “1776!” while pumping his fist in the air, and the woman asked him to respect his elders. His response? “I respect freedom.” Then he barked out orders for her and others to sit. 

First, here is that video as shared on Twitter.

We need to find out who this guy is and where he works because this was absolutely unacceptable. Unhinged #antimasker #Antivaxxer bullied an elderly woman on the #subway #NYC today. pic.twitter.com/vGHfPn30Kk

— Naviko (@Subway_DJ) August 16, 2021

“This is outrageous,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Acting CEO Janno Lieber during a press conference. “Number one, the guy’s a jerk.” He added that “every New Yorker” knows that riding the subway involves basic principles like respect, then described the man’s behavior as “an incredible, egregious violation of basic human decency and respect.”

It’s also a violation of MTA rules that require mask-wearing while aboard public transportation and at indoor stations. Violations come with a $50 fine, which the harassed passenger pointed out to the maskless menace herself.

“I wish the police would come and give you a $50 fine,” the woman, then seated, tells the man at the opening of the video. In response, he pitches up his voice and sarcastically tells her he’s “so afraid” while leaning over her seat. 

“Please get away from me, sir,” the woman replies before standing up from her seat.

“Sit, take a seat,” he tells the woman, which is when she tells him to respect his elders. 

When another passenger on the subway tried to reason with the man, he also told them to “take a seat” and “sit the f—k down.” He also repeated his insistence that he respects “freedom.” Before the video ends, the man stares into the camera as he perches in the center of the car and holds onto a railing.

According to Upper East Site, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said they were aware of the video but hadn’t received any complaints. 

The man’s identity has not been released, but some on Twitter suggest the same person was at an anti-vaccine mandate rally earlier that same day, based on photos reportedly from the event. 

Here they are at the new republican club rally today in Nyc. Guy on left was his buddy on the train who laughed and looked along. Notice Pudge boy is throwing up proud boy gestures. I’ve also been told he may be a proud boy from some sources. pic.twitter.com/y253pIFWqK

— crypto_jesus (@bitbible_chain) August 16, 2021

“We’re not going to yield any ground to people who want to bring whatever political ideology or theory they have,” Lieber continued in his statement. “We’re going to continue to aggressively encourage and make sure people wear masks for science reasons but also out of respect for each other.”

You can also view some of the clip below, courtesy of YouTube.

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