A Boston mother and her daughter were speaking Spanish on their way home when authorities say two white women assaulted them because they thought they were making fun of them.
“As they beat us, they yelled ‘This is America, speak English!'” the mother, who was only identified as Ms. Vasquez, told reporters earlier this week about the February 15 incident.
Vasquez, 46, and her 15-year-old daughter were walking near an East Boston train station after having dinner when they had an altercation with two women. The mother says they were punched, kicked and bitten.
On Thursday, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced that two women were facing several charges in connection with the attack.
Jenny Leigh Ennamorati, 25, and Stephanie Armstrong, 25, were each charged with two counts of violating constitutional rights with bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery charges, the district attorney said.
Ennamorati was charged with an additional assault and battery with dangerous weapon for using a shod foot.
“There is no place for hatred or bigotry in Suffolk County. The sense of entitlement and privilege these defendants must have felt to utter these hateful and racist words, and then to physically attack a mother and her child for laughing and speaking Spanish is outrageous and reprehensible,” Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement.
CNN has attempted to reach Ennamorati and Armstrong for comment. They are scheduled to appear in East Boston District Court on March 9.
Mother and daughter say they were punched and bitten
Surveillance video shared by the Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, a nonprofit group representing the Vasquezes, shows a woman crossing the street and shouting at another woman, who appears to be the mother. The pair then start shoving and hitting each other.
The scuffle continues with a few other women as some appear to try to separate them. By the end of the video, police officers arrive and speak with the two groups. The video does not show what happened before the altercation.
Ennamorati and Armstrong told police they heard the Vasquezes laughing and speaking Spanish and believed they were making fun of them, according to a police report.
First they had a “verbal argument,” but later one of the Vasquezes punched one of the women in the face and she defended herself by fighting back, they told police, according to the report.
Ennamorati and Armstrong’s names were redacted on the report but police said one of them had “multiple small scratches on her face and a small amount of blood around her fingernails,” the report said. Police said the women noted they had been “drinking and acting belligerent.”
But Vasquez and her daughter told police they were attacked by the other women, the report states.
Police saw that one of the Vasquezes had scratches on her face and a laceration to her right thumb, the report says, while the other Vasquez told them she was punched in the face multiple times and pulled by the hair.
All the women declined medical treatment, police said, but it appears that the teenager had been wearing a neck brace after the incident.
“We were attacked, punched, kicked, and bitten. I’m having nightmares. 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,” Vasquez said in a statement through her attorneys.
Janelle Dempsey, an attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights applauded the district attorney’s office actions. She had said the Vasquezes’ incident was not an isolated event in East Boston.
“This prosecution will go a long way in setting a powerful precedent for addressing the wave of hate that has spiked in Massachusetts and across the country,” the attorney said.
More than half of the residents in East Boston are Hispanic, according to the latest figures by the Boston Planning and Development Agency.