Angus Thompson, Erin Marie From:Herald Sun April 12, 2013 3:04PM
POLICE have praised commuters who came to the defence of a man being racially abused on a Melbourne train.
Furious passengers who united to take a stand against a woman who exploded in a hateful rant on Wednesday night.
In a show of force against the vile diatribe, in which she called an African man a “black —-“, one of two commuters who had been shoved by the thug publicly denounced her racist taunts.
Senior Sergeant Dearne Dummett praised the commuters who defended the victim.
“I commend the persons on the train for the way they came to assist that person,” she told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
Mahmood Sereaph Reza, 27, who was on his way home to Altona after attending a life coach workshop, said he boarded the train with his friend at Parliament station and was “gob-smacked” when the pair were immediately greeted by the woman taunting them with racist remarks.
He said they witnessed the woman’s male companion patrol the carriage and taunt with the question: “Does anyone have a problem with what she’s saying?”
Terrified passengers were seen escorting a mother and her seven-year-old daughter to the back of the carriage as a protective measure.
The woman confronts passengers on the train.
“I saw fear in people’s eyes when he asked that, because we didn’t know what would happen if someone stood up,” he said.
“Some people were chuckling about it but others were really distressed.”
Mr Reza, who is the man in the video footage seen standing up to the woman, said he had chosen to take a verbal stand when she started yelling: “this is my f—— country, you all need to get the f— out of here”.
“I’m a really patient and calm person, but when I heard that I just lost my cool,” Mr Reza said.
“There were International students on the train and they’ve come to this country to make a way for themselves and it’s not fair for them to have to sit there after a long day and hear that.
“I told her to ‘shut up’ and then she headed in my direction and was very aggressive and started pushing me.
“People behind me were all telling her to relax and not to touch me.
“I thought it was really beautiful that the whole train stood up for me. There were teenagers to my left, Indian students, some by themselves.”
In the footage Mr Reza said: “This is not the Australia that she represents. None of this s— should be remembered after this.”
In a touching sign of solidarity, a blond man told the woman, “If this is your country, then I don’t want to live here”, before shaking the hand of his fellow commuter.
However, Sen Sgt Dummett said it was better for commuters to call police if they felt threatened.
“It can turn into a tricky situation,” she said.
Andrea, one of several people filming the scene, said she boarded the Craigieburn line train at Flinders St at 9.50pm and heard the woman begin to yell.
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In the footage, the woman can be heard saying: “My grandfather was a sergeant in the Second World War.
“This is what us original Aussies fought for, to keep you black —– out.”
Andrea said the African man put his hand on the woman’s shoulder, to which she responded: “Get off me, you f—— black p—-.”
Several passengers then converged on the woman, telling her to shut up.
Seemingly shocked by the backlash, the woman said: “I’m being called a racist b—- in my own country.”
Andrea said she was impressed by the composure of the African man, the blond man and the man who confronted the woman after they copped the brunt of the poisonous outburst.
“It was impressive to see people stand up to her, rather than just sit back, as in similar incidents that have hit the media.”
Mr Reza, who is trained in martial arts and works part-time as a security guard, warned the women he would escort her off the carriage if she continued to behave in a threatening manner.
“I wasn’t scared for myself, I was more concerned the incident was going to escalate,” he said.
“She then said some really disgusting things to my friend. She called him ‘blackness’ and then said really quietly ‘you’re as dark as night you are’.”
Racism on Melbourne public transport achieved global notoriety after a man, egged on by several others, screeched violent threats at a French woman on a city-bound bus from Frankston in November.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Belinda Batty said Protective Services Officers escorted the 37-year-old South Melbourne woman off the train at North Melbourne station and interviewed her.
Her companion, a 44-year-old Meadow Heights man, was searched and given a drug diversion notice after he was found to have illegal substances.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said while it was admirable strangers had stood up to defend others against racism, the incident further highlighted the need for staff, such as PSOs, to patrol trains as well as station platforms.