newsCrime

Viral video of racist rant, assault prompts arrest of Plano woman

Esmeralda Upton was arrested after being filmed striking, threatening and making racist comments against four women. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, police say.

A woman who was caught on video verbally berating a group of South Asian women was arrested Thursday in connection to the assault that Plano police are investigating as a hate crime.

In a video shared on Reddit, a woman confirmed by police to be Esmeralda Upton is seen verbally berating a group of women in a parking lot, saying “I hate you [expletive] Indians” and other comments against people of South Asian heritage, and threatening to shoot them. Police were unable to confirm the nationality of the victims, but community members who know them said they are of South Asian heritage.

Plano police said in a press release officers responded to a disturbance Wednesday around 8:15 p.m. in a parking lot outside a business in the 3700 block of Dallas Parkway. Upton faces one charge of terroristic threats and one charge of bodily injury assault.

In the video, someone off camera asks Upton why she approached the group, she says she hates “Indians” and believes there are too many people of South Asian descent in America. Upton asks the person filming, “I’m a Mexican American. I was born here, were you born here?”

Upton also makes racist comments about language.

At one point, Upton says, “I’m Mexican, I’m Mexican, and I paid my [expletive] way here,” before hitting another woman. Upton then strikes the person filming her several times.

“She’s hitting me!” the person filming appears to repeat.

Upton then reaches into her purse and forcefully tells the person filming to turn the camera off or “I swear to God I’ll [expletive] shoot your [expletive].”

Upton is being held on a bond of $10,000. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by the Plano police department’s Crime Against Persons unit, authorities said. It was not immediately clear if Upton has an attorney.

Groups in North Texas with ties to the South Asian American community condemned the attack and said they were relieved that a suspect had been arrested.

Urmeet Juneja, president of the India Association of North Texas, said he thinks North Texas has largely been a welcoming and safe place for people who are of South Asian descent.

The organization on Saturday held an event in Frisco to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. He said many people in his organization were shocked to see the video of the racist encounter.

”We are happy that law enforcement has taken swift action and arrested this person, but we also think that they should conduct a fair investigation and get to the bottom of the matter and take this hate crime investigation into its conclusion,” Juneja said.

“The events in Plano remind me of stories my parents and their friends told me over and over in the wake of 9/11 — of fellow Americans seeing them as others and enemies,” said Saatvik Ahluwalia, a spokesman for Asian Texans for Justice in a press release. “I’m grateful that the authorities are investigating the incident and urge our community join us in advocating for an expansion of how Asian stories are taught in our schools.”

Chanda Parbhoo, executive director of South Asian American Voter Engagement of Texas, said in a statement: ”While we are relieved our community members are safe, listening to their cries for help from the verbal, physical, and racist abuse this woman was unleashing in that dark parking lot is infuriating.”

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