I know you — and at least 5 million other people — have seen the video of a Cleveland bus driver delivering a vicious blow to the face of a female passenger. The driver, who worked for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for 22 years, has since been suspended without pay and removed from duty. The RTA has called his behavior “absolutely unacceptable.”
Shi’dea Lane (pictured), the woman struck by the driver, explained to Cleveland’s Fox 8 that the incident began when she boarded the bus on Sept. 18 and the driver, Artis Hughes, believed she did not have her fare. As the viral video shows, that conflict led to an ugly verbal exchange in which Lane and Hughes threatened each other. Lane is seen moving toward Hughes, though what she does is unclear as a passenger is blocking the view. Hughes has since told police that Lane grabbed him by the throat and spit in his face.
What happened next is clear and jaw-dropping. Hughes rises from his seat, twice declares “You’re going to jail now,” then delivers an uppercut to Lane’s chin, knocking her to the ground. Hughes throws her off the bus. She returns to fight and he grabs her neck. At least one passenger is heard yelling, “She’s a female!” Hughes responds, “I don’t care; she want to be a man, I’m gon’ treat you like a man!” Hughes has refused to apologize and claims he just was defending himself.
Despite Lane laying hands on him first, he was entirely wrong to retaliate and deserves his suspension. I don’t buy his excuse that he hit Lane in self-defense. Whatever it was that she did to him first, she did it and backed away. He had to get up and approach her to hit her. That wasn’t self-defense; it was payback. Surely there’s some procedure in the bus driver handbook that dictates that if/when a driver is assaulted, he should call the police, not serve up his own form of justice.
In the interview with Fox 8, Lane says she is still in pain from the blow and expressed she was baffled that Hughes punched her. “It’s amazing to see how a man would actually hit a woman that hard; I mean, are you serious?” she said. “I mean, you could have pulled me off the bus, you can’t really touch nobody but, for real, like, you really punched me?”
I can’t find sympathy for Lane. She’s no innocent here, despite Hughes’ brutal retaliation. She’s amazed that he hit her back hard because she’s a woman; I’m amazed that she put her hands on anyone — man or not — and expected otherwise. As often as the “men shouldn’t hit women” rule is touted, there’s enough evidence that every man doesn’t abide by it. You can’t tell who follows the rule and who doesn’t, so it’s best for everyone — man, woman, child — to keep their hands off other people. I’m also not sure in what world she expected to hit someone, then dictate the level of response in which the hit person responds. This incident was an unfortunate way for her to learn that lesson, but I hope she — and every other woman — now understands the possible consequences of putting their hands on a man or, for that matter, anyone else.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk