Muni fight bringing communities together

October 26, 2009 5:31:42 PM PDT
A fight on a Muni bus caught on video has jump started a couple of different conversations. The first involves safety and security on the Muni system. The second is about creating understanding and reconciliation between cultures

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Many have seen the video which has become an internet sensation. Two women were fighting over a seat on a Muni bus earlier this month and another passenger captured the confrontation on his cell phone camera.

RAW VIDEO: Passenger fight on Muni bus

Reverend Norman Fong is a member of a newly-formed coalition of Asian and African Americans who met Monday. Fong says it is the reaction to the video and the comments on blogs that make this too big to ignore.

"It's been a buzz even in Hong Kong," he says. "It's global and some of us feel like, 'Wait a minute. If we're going to talk about racial comments, let's do it in a more constructive way."

The grass roots community leaders say tensions are rising between the races with the stress of a down economy. One young woman says people are simply tired of being beaten and robbed on Muni.

"What a lot of my peers said during the video was, 'It's about time, you know, somebody fought back,'" said tenant services organizer Jennifer Chan.

What people may not have noticed on the video was the passenger who stepped in to stop the fight. She appeared on tape Monday but wanted to remain anonymous. Her message was that this incident will be used as an opportunity for change in race relations.

"We're not as far along as we should be as a city," she said.

One anti-violence crusader says Muni must improve.

"For example," Hewitt says, "having culturally relevant messages on the bus, having the possibility to provide more public security on buses."

According to Muni rules, the driver should have stopped the bus and radioed for help. Muni admits he did neither.

Everyone agrees the Muni driver should have done more. Because it is a personnel matter, Muni is not saying what, if any, disciplinary measures were taken. They will only say that the case has been handled appropriately.

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