BRONX, NY (PIX11)—"I asked them to lower their voices and then they started in on me, 'Shut the f--- up, white boy. We'll beat the s--t out of you, cracker.'"
Jason Fordell, 29, of the Bronx, said that was the first exchange he had with three black men and a Hispanic man on the #4 subway train near Grand Central early Sunday morning, and by the time the train got to Fordham Road, Fordell says he was being beaten and stomped by other passengers who were egging the original group on. "Eventually, half the car" joined in, Fordell told PIX 11 Monday, showing us his badly bruised left eye. Most of the suspects got away, after stealing his bags and money, and Fordell said the incident should have been treated as a hate crime.
Fordell told us he had been selling leather, Goth-style clothing he designs at an East Village club, before heading home about 5am Sunday morning. He was tattooed and dressed in black, Goth attire--to help market his products--when he transferred to the #4 train at 42nd Street. That's when he asked the group to quiet down.
The argument escalated as the train headed north, Fordell said. "They started saying racist things like white boy this, white boy that.". Fordell said he was getting angry when the Hispanic man joined the taunting, "They're calling me cracker, and so I called him s--c."PIX 11 asked, "So you used a slur?--If you're using racial slurs, why should police call it a hate crime?" Fordell's response: "because they're the ones who started with me."
Fordell told us he's blind in the left eye, so the eye turns in, and the group started taunting him about that. He said he called 9-1-1 and suggested police meet the train at Burnside Avenue. He then lost the 9-1-1 call. Before he reached Fordham Road, Fordell told PIX 11 the beating began, "A bunch of people started stomping on me, and I had footprints on my back."
Fordell said two guys from the original group stole his bags, so he chased them down to the Metrocard booth at Fordham Road. The fight continued. When cops arrived, he pointed out a straphanger that he said had joined in the beating. "I recognized him, because he had an Army hat on.". Police arrested 54-year-old Barminth Ramoutar of Queens, who had no prior criminal record. Ramoutar is being charged with felony gang assault. The original group got away.
Fordell insists the beating was a race thing. "If I was dressed 'hip hop' and I was darker, I don't think it would have happened in the first place."
When we called the NYPD to ask why the incident wasn't deemed a hate crime, a spokesman said detectives had to evaluate a number of things. "Was race the motivating factor in the assault? Our Hate Crime Task Force was not investigating it as a bias incident."
Fordell said the Goth accessories that were stolen were worth between five and ten thousand dollars. He said he started designing because "the economy is so messed up, and I kept trying to find work. I don't want to be on unemployment like everyone else. I manage to pay my rent."
When PIX 11 happened to meet another Goth fan at the Forham Road station on Monday, he sympathized with Fordell but said he shouldn't have complained about the noise. "He should have just switched cars," said Joey Martinez.