Videos posted to social media on Thursday night appear to show two adult men attacking a young man, who witnesses describe as a “kid,” and trying to throw him off a San Francisco Muni light rail train, apparently in a confrontation over loud music.
Many social media users have also questioned whether race was a factor in the apparent attack, pointing out that the young man in the videos, which transportation officials have described as “very disturbing,” appears to be a person of color.
In one of two videos posted to Twitter, which have attracted more than 330,000 views combined, a man who is white, appears to be tackling the young man as an onlooker pleads for him to stop.
They’re attempting to throw him onto the street. You can see it clearly here. He’s just a kid. This is not okay. pic.twitter.com/BGT3kado26
— Anna Sterling (@AnnaMSterling) August 31, 2018
“He’s just a kid, leave him alone,” the woman shouts.
The man who appears to have the victim in a headlock, responds: “That’s fine! Tell him to stop… I’m fine stopping. I’ve got no problem.”
“Over music?” the woman retorts. “Leave him alone!”
The second video takes an even more disturbing turn, when the first man, now joined by an older man, appears to repeatedly slam the young man into the train’s doors.
When the doors open, the two men appear to be trying to throw the victim out of the train, as he shouts for them to “stop” and an onlooker pleads for the men to “just leave him alone.”
Tweets from journalist Anna Sterling, who shared the video, which she said was sent to her by a witness on the train at the time of the incident, fill in the rest.
“These two men just tried to throw this kid off the Muni train because he was playing music too loudly,” Sterling wrote. “He could have easily hit oncoming traffic.”
In a later tweet posting the second video, she wrote: “He’s just a kid. This is not okay.”
Sterling said that in the end, the young man was able to get off the train safely, as the journalist wrote that the witness who filmed the videos “got off at the same stop as the young man to offer help.”
“He is ok,” she told concerned Twitter users who asked if the young man was safe. “He was shaken up after the incident for sure though,” the journalist said.
As the videos spread across social media, many accused the two men of racism, pointing to incidents where white people have called police on black people or confronted black people over innocuous activities, such as holding a barbecue, moving apartment or simply walking out on the street.
“Thinking you have the right to remove somebody from a public transit because they annoy you is a perfect example of white privilege,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another Twitter user dubbed the two men, who both appeared to be white, #MuniMatt” and “#MuniMark” in an apparent reference to the “BBQ Becky” nickname given to a woman who called the police on black people holding a barbecue at Lake Merritt in Oakland, as well as the “Permit Patty” nickname given to a woman who recently called the police on an 8-year-old girl selling water.
A third user was more blunt, writing: “They did it because he was black, period.”
Calling the videos “very disturbing” footage, Paul Rose, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, told Newsweek the agency is working with the San Francisco Police Department “to fully investigate this matter.”
This article has been updated with a statement from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.