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Transit police investigate possible hate crime after teens told to 'speak English' on bus

Last Updated Jul 31, 2019 at 6:25 pm PDT

Some teens from Brazil were left in tears after a woman told them to speak English while on a bus in Vancouver. Things escalated and one of the girls was hit in the face with a bag. Transit police say they're looking to speak with the woman pictured. (Source: Lauren Boothby/NEWS 1130)

The incident started when the woman appeared to object to a group of teens speaking Portuguese

A woman can be seen smashing her backpack into the face of one of the teens

Two of the girls in the group say they were left feeling humiliated, scared and sad

EDITOR’S NOTE: The video in this article has been edited to remove graphic language but some viewers might find the content disturbing. The original video tweeted out contains profanity. 

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A shocking confrontation on a bus heading out of Vancouver was caught on camera Sunday evening.

NEWS 1130’s Lauren Boothby was on the 95 B-line when she noticed a woman yelling at a group of teens for not speaking English.

She explained the confrontation took a violent turn, when the woman got off the bus.

“The woman threatened to grab the kid by the hair and pull her off the bus. Then when her bus stop came she stood up and she slammed her backpack into the kid’s face”

Boothby said the group of teenagers, who are visiting from Brazil, started crying after the woman got off the bus.

Alessandra Ribeiro, 17, was struck in the face by the woman’s backpack.

She said the woman accused her and her friends who were having a conversation among themselves of being “snarky” and “disrespectful.”

“She used it as an excuse, I think, to cover for the fact that she was bothered that we were speaking Portuguese,” Ribeiro told Boothby after the incident.

“I feel very humiliated and awful. I also feel like crying but I won’t,” she said.

Ribeiro’s friend, Isabella Fagunde, says she was shocked when the woman began screaming and swearing.

“I’ve never experienced something like that” Fagunde said.”We are here just to study, to explore the country and to get to know it because we always hear so many good things about Canada — that people here are respectful, that they accept everybody here from other countries.

She admitted feeling scared after the incident, and said she worried things would escalate further after her friend was hit with the backpack.

“I feel a little bit humiliated, like she thinks she’s better than us in some kind of way,” Fagunde said through tears.

Transit Police have said they are investigating.

– With files from Lauren Boothby