BOSTON (AP) — Two women were charged Friday with beating a woman and her daughter, who say they were targeted for speaking Spanish in public, prosecutors in Boston said Friday.
Jenny Leigh Ennamorati and Stephanie Armstrong, both 25 and of Revere, Massachusetts, are charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, as well as felony counts of violating a person’s constitutional rights with bodily injury, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
“The sense of entitlement and privilege these defendants must have felt to utter these hateful and racist words, and then to physically attack a mother and her child for laughing and speaking Spanish is outrageous and reprehensible,” Rollins said in a written statement.
Ennamorati and Armstrong are due in Boston Municipal Court on March 9.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had lawyers to speak for them. A phone listing for Ennamorati was disconnected, and a listing could not be found for Armstrong.
The charges are an “important step” in holding the women accountable for their actions, said Lawyers for Civil Rights, an organization representing the victims.
“This prosecution will go a long way in setting a powerful precedent for addressing the wave of hate that has spiked in Massachusetts and across the country,” it added.
The victims, who have not been publicly identified beyond their last name, Vasquez, were attacked Feb. 15 outside a subway station in the majority-Latino East Boston neighborhood.
The mother, who held a news conference Monday but declined to give her first name out of concern for her daughter’s safety, said the two were walking home from dinner when the women attacked them, unprovoked.
Vasquez said the women shouted, “This is America,” and told them to “speak English” and “go back to your (obscenity) country” as they punched, kicked and bit them.
Ennamorati and Armstrong told officers they approached the two because they believed they were making fun of them in Spanish, according to a redacted report provided by police. They also acknowledged they had been “drinking and acting belligerent,” police said.
A video of the attackshows a woman briskly crossing the street while shouting and pointing at two women, then throwing punches. One of the other women punches back, and more people jump into the fray before Boston police arrive.
Civil rights groups said the attack highlights “racism and xenophobia” that are increasingly common in East Boston, which is experiencing a demographic shift amid a building boom.