An Asian-American bus driver was attempting to enforce a mask requirement when he was beaten with a wooden bat, according to police in San Francisco. The driver for San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) had asked three passengers—possibly teenagers—to leave the bus when one allegedly spit on the driver and struck him numerous times with a miniature baseball bat, per the Guardian. Police rep Robert Rueca says a preliminary investigation into last Wednesday's assault "did not indicate that race was a factor," per NBC News. However, the unidentified driver tells the Guardian that the young men referred to his race, with one claiming he was likely to have the coronavirus. The driver says the men initially complied with his request to put on masks that were hanging from their chins, but took off the face coverings as soon as the bus got moving.
When the men finally exited, one of the group opened a panel on the side of the bus, the driver says. When the driver got out, the man allegedly spit on him, hit him twice with the bat, and struck him twice in the face. "I keep thinking to myself: that bat he pulled from his backpack could easily have been a gun," says the driver, who suffered a fractured finger. Police say the men fled "in an unknown direction." No arrests have been made. The president of the union representing Muni drivers says they've had to endure verbal assaults and racial slurs "on a daily basis" during the pandemic, per the Guardian. He urges the public to support operators in any way they can. However, the driver describes a recent verbal assault including racial slurs against two Asian-American passengers who tried to help him enforce the mask rule. (He isn't the first bus driver to be attacked.)