While walking down the street, Ernie saw three or four men hop across the street. He followed them, hopping to and from sidewalks. When the men spoke to Ernie, there was an unpleasant exchange of words.
Location:Corner of Front Street and State Street along Riverside Park
One day I was walking on the sidewalk and there was a couple, three or four people coming towards me. And when they see me, they jump[ed] to another side. And I look at them and go, “Okay…” I jump to the other side. And they see me [jump to the other side] and they cross the street again. Cross the street (laughs). And they turn to me and say, “Why you do that?”
I go, “Why when you guys see me you cross the street? Anytime I cross the street you cross the street.”
And they said something I don’t want to say.
I say, “It’s okay, that no bother me.”
They start calling me the n-word. And then when hear me talk [they say,] “Oh are you Jamaican? Or African?”
I go “No, why you want to know?”
“No because, you don’t talk, you no speak English.”
“I’m sorry, can you teach me?”
“Oh, you have to go to school. And you are in America, you have to speak English.”
“How I gonna speak English if I born and grew up in another country?”
And they start with violence, and all this. And I keep walking, because sponsor told me, “If somebody bother you, ignore it.” But sometimes you cannot ignore people, sometimes they [keep] picking, picking, picking. And you head goes sheeww. But sometimes you have to control, you have to control it. Like me, I’m the one who gonna get in trouble, they’re not gonna get in trouble. The only thing I can do is ignore it and keep doing what I was [doing]… walking and enjoying my life. And that’s my story. My Name is Ernesto Rodriguez Reece, and I’m from Cuba, and I came in 1980.