A former Huddersfield student who was filmed allegedly being racially abused on a city centre tram has spoken of his shock.
Juan Jasso, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University who has lived in the UK for 18 years, described the incident as “surreal”.
A video showed the rugby league player, who studied for a PGCE at the University of Huddersfield and now lives in Todmorden, being told to “get back to Africa” on a tram in Manchester on Tuesday morning.
The appalling incident, which was allegedly sparked by Juan confronting passengers over foul-mouthed language, was posted online and quickly went viral.
Two men aged 20 and 18 and a 16-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with the incident.
The 20-year-old man remains in police custody for questioning but the other two have been bailed after also being arrested on suspicion of affray following the shocking incident, caught on camera.
Mr Jasso was targeted by three youths as shocked commuters looked on during the incident on a tram in Manchester city centre on Tuesday morning.
Father-of-one Juan, who has coached rugby players at Calderdale College, told Channel 4 news: “It was a bit of a surreal moment because it was initially just me asking those individuals just to watch their language.
“So I thought I would step up and say something. It has obviously escalated to what it has now.”
Juan, who has previously served in the US military, added that tensions may have been stoked following the vote to leave the EU on Friday.
“I think the result maybe has pushed people to somehow justify that they think it’s ok to act out in this way, which obviously it’s not.
“It’s not acceptable in any terms, in any way, shape or form, because people feel threatened by it and people are coming here to contribute.”
Juan has since thanked the public for support, as hundreds have rallied round in a show of intolerance against hate crimes.
Anyone with any information on the incident is urged to contact Greater Manchester Police.
All hate crimes can be reported by calling 101.