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Couple face hate crime charges after hurling abuse and throwing beer at immigrant family

A Long Island couple is facing hate crime charges after they were caught on camera verbally attacking and throwing beers at an immigrant family on a New York City commuter train.

Liz Edelkind was traveling on the Long Island Rail Road with her husband, 10-year-old son and two others when the couple — later identified as Justin Likerman, of Ronkonoma, and Kristin Digesaro, of Huntington — allegedly harassed them.

Video shows Likerman throwing a beer at the family and screaming: ‘Look straight! Don’t f***ing look at me! I’m going to get arrested tonight!’

‘I know it’s not worth it, but these f***ing foreigners ain’t taking over my f***ing country!’ 

Edelkind — who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, according to Remolacha — believes she was targeted because of her accent and skin color.

‘The couple started to verbally attack me, calling me curse words, immigrant, that I don’t pay taxes, that I have no rights in this country,’ she told NBC New York

‘How dare they assume because I look or sound different that I am not a US citizen.’ 

Justin Likerman (right) and Kristin Digesaro (left) are facing charges of aggravated harassment as a hate crime and child endangerment after they allegedly verbally attacked and threw beers at an immigrant family on the Long Island Rail Road Monday night

Liz Edelkind (left), her husband (right), 10-year-old son (center) and two others were heading home from a New York Knicks game when the attack occurred. The group wanted to sit together on the train and asked fellow passengers if they'd be willing to accommodate them

Liz Edelkind (left), her husband (right), 10-year-old son (center) and two others were heading home from a New York Knicks game when the attack occurred. The group wanted to sit together on the train and asked fellow passengers if they’d be willing to accommodate them 

Edelkind and her family were headed home from a New York Knicks game, which had been a Christmas present for her son, on Monday night.

The group of five wanted to sit together on the eastbound train and had asked fellow passengers if they’d be willing to accommodate them, apparently setting off Likerman and Digesaro.

‘They threw beer at us. My pastor and her husband, and my husband, got in the way to protect me,’ Edelkind recalled — a testimony echoed by video footage of the incident that has been shared more than 10,000 times. 

‘You have no rights here,’ Digesaro yelled as her boyfriend began his abusive rant.

‘Don’t look at me, I’m going to get arrested tonight. Don’t f***ing look at me,’ Likerman screamed, repeating the phrase several times.

Another passenger tried to interject, explaining the argument is not worth getting arrested over.

Likerman replied: ‘I know it’s not worth it’ and continued to hurl foul language at the family.  

Likerman (pictured), apparently set off by the request, threw his beer and screamed at the family: 'Look straight! Don't f***ing look at me! I'm going to get arrested tonight! I know it's not worth it, but these f***ing foreigners ain't taking over my f***ing country!'

Likerman (pictured), apparently set off by the request, threw his beer and screamed at the family: ‘Look straight! Don’t f***ing look at me! I’m going to get arrested tonight! I know it’s not worth it, but these f***ing foreigners ain’t taking over my f***ing country!’

Edelkind (pictured at the game) pressed charges against the couple and claims the incident left her family 'very concerned and traumatized by this aggression'

Edelkind (pictured at the game) pressed charges against the couple and claims the incident left her family ‘very concerned and traumatized by this aggression’

Edelkind, who pressed charges against the couple, claims the incident left her family ‘very concerned and traumatized by this aggression’. 

‘My 10-year-old witnessed this. They ruined my son’s first basketball game experience,’ she told Osman Canales, founder of Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates, who shared the footage online.  

Likerman and Digesaro surrendered to the transit police on Wednesday afternoon. They face charges of aggravated harassment as a hate crime and child endangerment.

Additionally, the pair were fired from their positions at Empire Toyota of Huntington after the dealership was made aware of the incident.

‘The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident, and, as our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated,’ the company wrote in a statement.

The couple was arrested and also fired from their employer, Empire Toyota of Huntington

The couple was arrested and also fired from their employer, Empire Toyota of Huntington

Edelkind (pictured with her son and husband) hopes the traumatizing incident will serve as an example to others and send a positive message to victims. She said: 'When I heard there were arrested, I felt validated as a human, as a woman, as a US citizen. Justice prevails. I want to show people, you have a voice, use it. If you're not using your voice to stand against those oppressing you, then you are standing with them'

Edelkind (pictured with her son and husband) hopes the traumatizing incident will serve as an example to others and send a positive message to victims. She said: ‘When I heard there were arrested, I felt validated as a human, as a woman, as a US citizen. Justice prevails. I want to show people, you have a voice, use it. If you’re not using your voice to stand against those oppressing you, then you are standing with them’ 

‘The heart and soul of our labor force is extremely diverse and we value our employees beyond description. Further, our company’s deep support — financial and in-kind — of Long Island’s diverse communities is a matter of public record. We can say without hesitation that whatever occurred on that LIRR train is in no way reflective of our company, its ownership, its management team, nor its employees.’ 

Meanwhile, Edelkind hopes the traumatizing incident will serve as an example to others and send a positive message to victims. 

‘When I heard there were arrested, I felt validated as a human, as a woman, as a US citizen. Justice prevails,’ she said. 

‘I want to show people, you have a voice, use it. If you’re not using your voice to stand against those oppressing you, then you are standing with them.’

She added: ‘The attack was completely unprovoked, a situation they created. Those words that come out their mouths don’t come out unless you have hatred in your heart.’ 


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