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TikTok dancers harassed at Downtown Crossing for wearing masks

"At first I thought he was joking...then he started talking about communism and all that stuff, and that’s when it hit us, we realized he was being racist towards us because we were Asian people wearing masks."

A group of mostly Asian women filming a K-pop dance video in Downtown Crossing was harassed by a man for wearing masks.

On Monday, a TikTok video posted by user @celenana_na shows a clip of seven women filming a dance in the square, and cuts to an unmasked man approaching the user and appearing to hit her arm holding the phone before telling her to stop recording him and to “put that s*** down.” The video has amassed over 3 million views.

@celenana_na

we have the right to wear masks like how he has the right to be ugly tf ##stayc ##stereotype ##kpopinpublic ##harrassed ##asian ##covid ##kpop ##kpopfyp

♬ stereotype x dalla dalla – .

In a follow-up video, the user said that day she’d been filming a video with HUSH CREW, a Boston- and Los Angeles-based K-pop dance group, when a man approached them in between takes and asked why they were wearing masks. 

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“Between takes, some people wear masks just because a lot of people approach us about what videos we do, what we’re filming for, who we are, so when he first approached us we weren’t thinking much of it,” she said. “He came up to us asking, ‘why are you guys wearing masks?’ And at first, I thought he was joking, so we were playing along, but then he started talking about communism and all that stuff, and that’s when it hit us, we realized he was being racist towards us because we were Asian people wearing masks.”

@celenana_na

Reply to @onyxfyre i’m sorry for the voice fry and saying “like” a million times 🥲 but here is the story time ##storytime

♬ original sound – celena

The crew regularly films at Downtown Crossing and has for a while, according to their YouTube channel, and on Monday were in the pedestrian zone at Summer and Washington streets. When the man allegedly began harassing the women about wearing masks, the user in the clip is heard saying, “this is America, I can do whatever the f*** I want.” She later apologized for saying that, noting that it was a reaction to his chosen “communism” insult.

“I started recording for my safety because I noticed he started getting up into our space, really close to us,” @celenana_na said on TikTok. “The moment I started recording, he swiped at my phone, and luckily a third person came in and pulled him aside to keep us safe, and I’m really grateful for that.”

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The man who approached and pulled the other aside was actually Brandon Bowser, a labor organizer and former city council candidate. When Bowser steps in and asks what’s wrong, one of the women says about the first man, “he’s being a racist a******.” 

Bowser shared a video by TikTok user @tizzyent, who posts political content and videos asking viewers to track certain people down. The user described the incident and challenged Boston to find this man.

“He assaulted her,” @tizzyent said. “There were other people in this area with masks on…but they’re the only ones he decided to come up and say something to. They’re the only ones he decided to call communists, which seems to be directly referring to the fact that they are Asian. This guy’s way too comfortable being aggressive towards women, putting his hands on women, especially Asian women.”

In a comment under her follow-up video, @celenana_na wrote it’s “not worth finding him” or “making him lose anything,” and that the man just needs help. She also said she did not call the cops.

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“I wouldn’t want to put this man in danger just [because] he grabbed me,” she wrote. “Boston cops are…not it.”

The Boston Police Department told MassLive the office was aware of the video but hasn’t seen an official report come through.

In response to comments about filming him and calling him out as a racist, @celenana_na said it did not have to do with the man’s race.

“There were a bunch of other people around wearing masks,” she said, “but for some reason, he approached us about wearing masks and communism.”

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