Australian police have charged a woman for racially abusing passengers on a train after a video recording her tirade was posted online and went viral, sparking a social media backlash.
The 55-year-old, named by Australian media as Karen Bailey, was arrested late on Thursday after allegedly launching an expletive-filled rant at young children and an Asian woman during a Sydney train journey.
New South Wales police said she was charged with offensive language and will appear in court later this month.
Karen Bailey was filmed pulling her eyes back and using a mock Chinese accent as she yelled at fellow commuters, “What’s wrong with Hong Kong? Why did you come to this country? This is our country.”
Mimicking the accent of an Asian mother who stood up to her, the woman adds: “We go back to China. We go back to China. We have stupid.”
She then launches into another passenger standing nearby who also tries to calm her, loudly declaring, “Hard to get an Aussie girlfriend – you had to get a ****, using a derogatory term used to describe an Asian.”
Laughing, she adds: “She probably thinks he’s rich.”
Bailey’s outburst began off-camera, when she could not get a seat in the carriage and started to scream at two children aged seven and 10, coarsely telling their mother to vacate a seat for her.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by a passenger on the train who recorded the exchange. It had been viewed more than 100,000 times on by Friday morning and attracted almost 1,000 comments.
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said on Twitter that “there is no excuse for acts of racial insult, humiliation and intimidation”.
“When confronted with such conduct, everyone should consider a response, including reporting it to a relevant authority,” he wrote.
Bailey told media group Ninemsn she was having a “really, really rotten day” and “it’s awful what I said to that woman, I do agree”.
“There’s no excuse to rant at people like that,” she said. “It’s awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, regardless of any race.”
Bailey initially gave her name as Sue Wilkins to passengers and some media outlets once the video of her rant went viral.
The incident came two years after a French-speaking woman singing on a Melbourne bus was told by a man to “speak English or die” in another video posted on the internet that went viral.
Two Chinese students were burned, beaten and racially abused on a Sydney train in the same year, sparking uproar on China’s social media sites.