A woman has been arrested after authorities said she was caught on video physically and verbally assaulting a group of women of South Asian descent in a parking lot in Plano, Texas, Wednesday night. The incident is under investigation as a possible hate crime.
Esmeralda Upton was arrested Thursday and charged with misdemeanor assault and terroristic threat, the Plano Police Department reports. She has since been released from custody after posting $10,000 bond, Plano police spokesperson Andrae Smith confirmed to CBS News.
The, which has racked up thousands of views on social media, shows a woman, identified by police as Upton, yelling expletives, going on a racist rant, punching someone and threatening to shoot one of the victims.
“Go back to India,” Upton can be heard yelling at one point in the footage.
No hate crime charges have yet been filed. However, Plano police said in a statement Friday that incident is a “hate crime in accordance with Texas laws,” and could also prompt federal charges.
“We are working closely with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on this case,” the department wrote.
Plano police added that officers did not arrest Upton at the scene because “the criminal offenses did not occur in the presence of the responding patrol officers.”
Rani Banerjee, who identified herself to CBS News Thursday as one of the four women targeted in the racist attack, also posted the video of the incident to Facebook. Banerjee told WFAA-TV in Dallas that she and her friends had just finished eating at Sixty Vines restaurant when Upton approached them in the parking lot.
“Suddenly, we heard this woman yelling at us, and she started coming toward us,” Banerjee told WFAA. “We were shocked by the racial slurs that she used.”
Faizan Syed, executive director for the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, condemned the racist assault.
“The level of vitriol and alleged physical assault against four Indian-American women in Plano is truly appalling,” Syed said in an interview on WFAA. “This type of hate has no place in North Texas, and we call on law enforcement to investigate this incident as a hate crime.”
Anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise in the U.S. According to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, there were nearly 11,500 reported hate crimes against Asians between March of 2020 to March of 2022. Two-thirds of all the incidents involved verbal harassment, written hate speech or inappropriate gestures.