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On November 17th, 2011, a video titled "My Tram Experience" was uploaded to YouTube by user ladyk89 which featured an English woman making various racist statements while holding a child on a tram in London. During the course of the video, the woman verbally abuses other passengers telling them to "go back to where you came from" and complains that Britain has been ruined by an influx of ethnic minorities.
On November 28th, the video reached the front page of Reddit in a thread titled "I feel sorry for the kid – Racist woman on UK tram" and within 5 days the video had received over 8 million views.
The same day, the British tabloid The Daily Mirror reported that the woman ranting in the video had been placed under arrest by British law enforcement, citing a tweet from the official British Transport Police Twitter account.
On November 30th, The Mirror published an update revealing that the woman had been refused bail based on fears that she would be targeted by revenge attacks.
Frances Lockhart, prosecuting, told magistrates in Croydon, South London, she opposed bail. She said: “There are grounds for believing that Miss West is not safe.” David Ewings, defending, said West would be in just as much danger in prison. But chief magistrate Gerald Ellis refused to release West. He said: “We hear a number of death threats have been made.”
The same day, United Kingdom daily tabloid The Sun published an article revealing two more racially charged tram videos that had emerged.
TWO more women have been caught hurling vile racist abuse on a train – in sickening YouTube videos. One shows a female jabbing her finger at the victim before she unleashes a string of obscenities, while other passengers beg her to stop. Another captures an angry traveller launching a racist torrent at foreigners on the Tube as she "welcomes" them to London.
The woman's arrest sparked a debate about the fairness of prosecution for hate speech, including an article written by British blogger Sunny Hundal in The Guardian on November 29th. Hundal argued that while the woman's actions were detestable, he did not see the need to have her arrested.
I hate to write an article defending such a woman but I think calling for her to be arrested and then prosecuted is over the top. I don't think such behaviour is acceptable or have a problem with condemning it. My issue is that calling for the law to get involved is about the worst way to deal with such incidents.
On YouTube, hundreds of response videos have been created with people voicing various opinions regarding the incident. Several remixes have been uploaded as well with musical tracks edited over the video.