Story at a glance

  • Lorena Delaguna, 53, was charged with a hate crime and aggravated harassment in Queens, N.Y., after throwing a glass bottle at a Black runner.
  • Victim Tiffany Johnson, 37, said she feared for her safety.

A woman in New York City has been charged with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment after being captured on video throwing a bottle and yelling a racial slur at a Black runner, according to The Associated Press.

Lorena Delaguna, 53, was reportedly arraigned in Queens criminal court following the confrontation with runner Tiffany Johnson, 37. 

 

 

The video made rounds on social media. Delaguna appears to throw a glass bottle at Johnson as she is jogging across a street in Woodwide, Queens, on Aug. 17.

“Crimes like this, which are fueled by hate, are in a special category for a reason,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz reportedly wrote. “No one should have to endure being called a vile slur or being attacked simply because of the color of their skin, their religion, or who they love.”


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Johnson did not report the incident until the video was released, initially wanting to get away from Delaguna. Speaking to NBC News, Johnson said that she feared for her safety and that Delaguna continued trailing her as she ran.

“I was concerned about my safety. She did follow me, she kept pursuing me,” Johnson told reporters.

Following the video’s circulation on social media, the New York Police Department (NYPD) Hate Crimes Task Force is reportedly investigating the incident. 

Judge Jeffrey Gershuny reportedly said that there is a “mental health component” involved and asked that a psychological evaluation be done on Delaguna. 

Johnson explained to reporters what she would say to Delaguna given the chance.

“I would definitely say to her that ‘I am not the n-word, nobody is the n-word,’ but you know she needs to do some soul searching,” she stated. 

The perils of running as a Black American have garnered national attention since the Feb. 23 slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger, in Georgia at the hands of three white men. A 2017 study observing a sample of middle class Black and white Americans found that Black men are less likely to engage in physical activity in neighborhoods perceived to be predominantly white. 

In the wake of Arbery’s death, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, has called on Georgia to pass an anti-hate crime law.  

“Ahmaud wasn't killed because he was doing a crime. So, why would he have been targeted, if it wasn't just for hate?” Cooper-jones asked in a New York Times op-ed video.


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Published on Sep 23, 2020