Boston Mother and Teen Daughter 'Brutally Assaulted' for Speaking Spanish by Two White Women, Lawyers Say

A mother and her 15-year-old daughter were viciously beaten by two white women in Boston for speaking Spanish in the street, according to a legal advocacy group.

The woman, identified only as Ms. Vasquez, and her teenage daughter needed medical attention after they were "brutally assaulted" near Maverick Square in East Boston on February 15, Lawyers for Civil Rights said in a news release.

The advocacy group said the "unprovoked" attack was carried out by "two white assailants because they were speaking Spanish, rather than English."

"We were attacked, punched, kicked, and bitten," Vasquez said. "I'm having nightmares. I'm afraid to take the train to work, and my family is afraid to speak Spanish in public.

"My daughter is still wearing a neck brace and she's having trouble sleeping. We are all very shaken."

At a news conference on Monday calling on police to investigate the incident as a hate crime, Vasquez said the two women shouted "This is America" and told them to "speak English," The Boston Globe reported. They were also told to "go back to your [expletive] country," Vasquez said.

"My family and I are afraid," she said. But she added: "We refuse to live in fear. We refuse to stay silent, as we were attacked based on our race, our language, and our identity."

Lawyers for Civil Rights also provided surveillance footage of the attack that had been filmed by a nearby business.

It shows a woman apparently yelling as she crosses the street before approaching Vasquez and punching her, according to the Globe. Vasquez hits back and a fight breaks out. A police officer is seen speaking with the people at the scene as the clip ends.

Lawyers for Civil Rights said the Vasquez family had not been notified of any arrests or whether the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. The advocacy group said Boston police prepared a report of the attack but did not follow up or formally interview the family until legal counsel intervened.

Boston Police Sergeant Detective John Boyle told the Globe that the incident remains under investigation by the department's Civil Rights Unit. "No arrests have been made, but it is a very active investigation," Boyle told the newspaper.

According to the police report, officers arrived at the scene and interviewed Vazquez and her daughter, the two white women accused of attacking them and two witnesses.

The Globe reports that the two white women "admitted they had been drinking and acting belligerent," but claimed they had been the victims. According to the report, they told police they heard Vazquez and her daughter laughing and speaking Spanish and believed the pair were "making fun of them."

The women said they had a "verbal argument" and then one of the Vazquezes punched one of them in the face and one of the women hit back to defend herself. But two witnesses told police the women attacked the Vasquezes and one witness described being punched in the face three times while trying to break up the fight.

Janelle Dempsey, an attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the group regularly receives reports about residents in East Boston being targeted in hate crimes.

"This family's experience was not an isolated event; acts of racism and xenophobia are alarmingly common in East Boston," she said.

"Most of the time, victims and witnesses are reluctant to speak out of fear and trauma. But the Vasquez family wants the police to hold the assailants accountable."

The Boston Police Department has been contacted for additional comment.

Boston fight
Image taken from the surveillance video of the incident. Lawyers for Civil Rights
Boston Mother and Teen Daughter 'Brutally Assaulted' for Speaking Spanish by Two White Women, Lawyers Say | U.S.