Melee in the metro: Passenger attacked after demanding service in English
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012 8:25AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:32PM EDT
The STM and Montreal police are investigating a fight between a ticket taker and a passenger.
The battle happened Monday at the De La Savane metro station, and the victim says the fight started when a ticket clerk refused to serve her in English.
Mina Barak says her woes began when the automated machine malfunctioned, and she told the the attendant -- in English -- about the problem. Barak also asked the attendant to let her through the turnstile, at which point Barak said the woman in the booth became hostile.
"I went to call the agent as soon as she started telling me to go back to my country. "Ici on parle en Francais, retourne a ton pays."
Barak then phoned the STM to make a complaint, then went back to the attendant and told her what she had done.
At that point Jamie Salomon was passing by and saw the attendant come out of the booth and hit Barak.
"She came out of her box, she slammed the door and then she started slamming you," said Salomon on Tuesday when he saw Barak again.
Salomon said he could not stop the fight.
"I was screaming and I was yelling and I was pounding on the turnstile to make as much noise to try to shock the woman to her senses," said Salomon.
Barak said she tried to defend herself after being put in a headlock.
"At that moment I saw black I didn't know what to do," said Barak.
Another bystander broke up the fight, dragging Barak away, and police were soon on the scene.
The public transit employee could face criminal charges, but she spent Tuesday in hospital seeking treatment for an undisclosed condition.
Barak is sore and bruised.
"The bump on my head, the sores on my body, the ache in my neck," said Barak.
Marvin Rotrand, vice-chair of the STM, said the public transit agency will be investigating.
"We will be meeting with the employee to conduct our internal investigation when the employee gets out of the hospital. I don't know if the hospitalization is related to this incident," said Rotrand.
Over the past five months there have been several complaints from STM clients over a lack of service in English. Rotrand said the STM cannot force employees to speak English, but said they must always be respectful and polite.
"We want all our employees to exemplify the highest standards of customer service. When something like this happens its a black eye to the entire STM," said Rotrand.
At this point Barak said she does not care that much about being served in English, but she is very upset about being physically attacked -- and the lack of an apology.
"I still have no response from STM, they have not contacted me, they have not tried to apologize on anyone's behalf."