Cleveland Bus Brawl: The Anatomy of an Uppercut Gone Awry

Shi'dea Lane: "It hurt. On a scale of 1 to100, it was 100."
When 59-year-old bus driver Artis Hughes decided to pull over the bus he was driving to engage 25-year-old female passenger Shi’dea N. Lane in a brawl, I’m sure he never anticipated a video of his actions, going viral via the bastion of social media’s dark underbelly, World Star Hip Hop...  but go viral it did.  Comments ran the gamut; people were shocked and dismayed, but mostly enthused. Folks seemed to rejoice in seeing the young Black woman get her just desserts for being unruly, and instigating a fight with the 22-year veteran of Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority. Witness accounts state that Shi’dea boarded the bus without paying (which may have been what ignited the dispute), that she appeared drunk/out of sorts and on edge when she got on, and that the exchange prompted Shi’dea to spit on and then strike Hughes while he was operating the bus. Admittedly, Shi’dea was absolutely wrong for verbally and physically assaulting Hughes’s person and sensibilities.  But as if the video weren’t already disturbing enough, the ensuing commentary it provoked is just as troubling, if not more.

The incident reportedly took place on September 18th, but a shorter 1:35 clip of the video surfaced on WSHH on or around October 11th and immediately spread across various social media platforms, before a longer version was released.

On the video, Some leery bus passengers can be heard trying to diffuse the situation, imploring Lane to stand down, in hopes of quelling the heated exchange and cautioning Artis Hughes that the woman “is a female” during the brawl, shortly after he threatened to “whoop her muthaf*ckin’ ass”, others guffawed and or offered color-commentary, from their seats.  Shi’dea continued to spew expletives at Hughes, while he threw back several of his own… threatening to sic his daughter and/or granddaughter on an undaunted Lane, and then offered a nasty quip about Shi’dea’s looks- “… look like somebody done sliced your face up!” And basically all hell broke loose. Shi’dea made a quick move towards Hughes, physically assailing him.

 “You goin’ to jail now! You goin’ to jail now!” Hughes threatened, as he parked the bus and then slowly stood up to accost Lane and deliver an uppercut punch to her jaw with his closed fist. Lane’s head jerked back and Hughes made haste and yanked her by the hair and physically threw his unruly nemesis off the bus, along with her personal belongings. Lane pushed her way back onto the vehicle and continued scuffling with Hughes. A woman’s voice could clearly be heard from the background, yelling for someone to “stop him!”  … “That’s a f*ckin’ female!” she yelled. 

“I don’t care!” argued an indignant Hughes. “She wants to be a man… I’ma treat you like a man!” And then more scuffling, hair pulling, and yelling… 

So many things wrong with this entire scenario, I don’t know where to begin…
People can all agree that Shi’dea was out of line. But I cannot abide the argument that she “deserved” to be decked in the face by a man’s closed fist and then dragged by her hair in such a vicious manner. Let’s be real and examine what’s also wrong with Hughes’s behavior (which is even more deplorable), and the comments, guffaws, and LOLs justifying his actions and suggesting how heelarious it always is to see Black women get “put in their place” for stepping out of line.

 The ease, with which Hughes decided to strike Lane in her face with a closed fist is unsettling and suggests that perhaps this isn’t his first time striking a woman. As a 22-year veteran doing his job, I’m assuming Hughes has grown accustomed to the pitfalls that come with dealing with the general public for most of the day, which often includes ornery passengers, so I’m sure he’s well versed in reinforcing proper protocol during tense situations. and I’m sure the cons of the job take their toll after a while; but as someone who utilizes public transit, I’ve had many conversations with bus drivers who’ve been on the job for as long as Hughes have, and they all stressed the importance of showing restraint during particularly testy altercations, and how it’s never a good idea to further rile an especially combative passenger.  One driver who’s been at the helm of several routes I’ve been on once told me, “You can’t do this job if you don’t like people. That’s the bottom line. Even when situations are bad, you just can’t let it get to you. If you snap, then it’s time to retire.”  
I’m left to wonder why Hughes felt compelled to further escalate the situation to the point of violence, because he shares at least 50% of the responsibility, instead of pulling over immediately after dispatching for help the moment Shi’dea became disagreeable and refused to pay. I know it’s doable in these sorts of situations, because I’ve seen it done. 

It's absurd for people to say that women (especially Black women) who "act like men” should get “treated like a man” via some act of violence, until she “acts like a lady”, as if to suggest that masculinity is somehow inherently primitive and crude in its approach. Artis Hughes’s actions were more out of vengeance (because his masculinity was tested) than it was a defensive or protective measure on behalf of the other passengers, particularly since he put them at even greater risk, just to show this young woman who's the boss.  His immediate course of action should have been to diffuse the situation rather than try to restore honor to his manhood and further provoke it.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how overexcited people seem to get, over visuals depicting Black women in compromising or violent situations (queue the Rihanna and Chris Brown saga -- the same people cheering on this man for punching a woman in the face, are still simultaneously crucifying Chris and victim-blaming RiRi). 

The problem with these sorts of videos going viral is that predominantly White media outlets eventually pick up on and use them to further illustrate negative narratives about Black female pathology. The audience for these mainstream social media outlets then surmise, “See? Black women are masculine, loud, combative and ghetto, so they deserve to get hit/punched/shot/maimed/raped/assaulted because of their attitudes!” … despite the circumstances. And don’t tell me this situation transcends race or gender, because those were the sorts of racially insensitive comments about Black women I read about this video, in addition to kudos for Shi’dea “taking that punch like a champ”, because absorbing pain and violence of that magnitude has always been the burden of Black womanhood; we aren’t allowed the dignity of having off days, the right to speak up for ourselves without being branded as angry, or of being vulnerable. We aren’t expected to be anything other than icy mules, which can take a licking but keep on ticking.  In many ways some of us are complicit in that belief, as evidenced by some of our comments regarding this situation… that it’s totally permissible for a “certain type of woman” to get her teeth knocked down her throat and her hair yanked out of her head for being too rough around the edges and not “acting like a lady”… a common motif throughout the commentary about this incident. 

No one cared to ask or know whether Shi’dea- who was shot four times during a robbery a couple of years ago and is the mother of a four-year-old – has mental health issues or why she was so indignant when she got on the bus. Needless to say, neither party pressed charges against the other, and Hughes has been suspended from his job for “unacceptable behavior” pending an investigation. 

Despite the thumbs-up and Facebook “likes” Hughes’s actions have generated, there are no winners or heroes in this unfortunate situation, and I don’t believe Hughes should be hailed as one.


Anonymous said...

From reading this post, my opinion have not changed as a man. There was no hero in this situation, But to think that because Shidea is completely innocent is grossly unfair to Hughes and all males including Chris Brown. The principle of a real man is to never hit a woman, while expecting a woman to respect that he can really hurt her if he does, so she as a woman should know those boundaries. Hughes as a professional, serving the community , is still a human and male or female deserve that much respect. Granted that all situations are not identical and should not be seen that way. The Rihanna is a issue as they were in a relationship which more complicate cris brown and her and as not even a remote similarity. The fact that hughes and lane are black, i would say bare little similarity in comparison, even by the reaction of the audience of this type of violence. Violence is violence and race relations is a more delicate matter with regard to cultural differences.
The fact that lane was previously injured in a violent way, should have made her reluctant to even confront anyone aggressively knowing that she should preserve her life for her child. So to the commenters that voice their opinion, saying that she got what she deserve. Are well in their rights to do so. Insensitive as that may sound. A man is not a robot, and if he say that hitting a woman is not right, then a woman should not act like a man while been wrong at the same time disrespecting a man in front of a bus full of people. I thing he deserves a pardon. She deserve a little sympathy. He should loose his job for not acting within the protocol, however i think he should get his full pension for his years of service. She maybe entitle to an apology from RTA. However, she should not be compensated monetarily, For the reason that this example could spark another person, to repeat this action, knowing, of the result of this bad behavior, someone got paid.

TiffJ said...

What in the patriarchal hell? o_O

First of all, re-read again... I did not write or claim that Shi'dea wasn't the instigator OR even innocent. I said she was WRONG. I ALSO noted Artis's part in exacerbating the situation to the point of violence and I refused to acknowledge him as any sort of hero for his actions. I cited them BOTH as being wrong. He chose to engage his unruly passenger and he challenged her rather than deescalate the altercation. It didn't need to get to that point. But he certainly played a part in helping ignite an already tense situation and HE ALSO put passengers' lives at risk.

Also, I will NOT abide all this talk I keep hearing and reading about women "disrespecting" MEN. RESPECT is a two-way street... it's an action that should be reciprocated REGARDLESS of one's gender. Someone isn't automatically entitled to respect (particularly if they haven't EARNED it) just by virtue of them being a MAN. That's ridiculous and I don't subscribe to that patriarchal b.s., especially when so many women are out here being brutalized and assaulted. JUST THIS MORNING, I read about a man (with a long rap sheet, that included charges for DOMESTIC VIOLENCE) who shot up a Dominican hair salon, killing several women; one of which was his girlfriend and another who was FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT, yet you're telling me this post is "disrespectful to ALL men, including CHRIS BROWN" ?? Really? I don't even KNOW where that logic comes from, particularly since CHRIS BROWN was responsible for his OWN demise, when he also OPTED to beat the shit out of his ex-girlfriend because he didn't have the peace of mind to show restraint.
So no. No, no, N.O. ... Just NO.

And P.S., but both Shi'dea and Artis are now facing charges. Her for disorderly conducted (filed by the Cleveland RTA) and HIM with misdemeanor assault (the heavier charge), and he has the Union's support. They BOTH are paying... and I'm sure for him, administering an uppercut to put a loud-mouthed woman in her place, was NOT worth 22-years of job security.

fuzz said...

I would love for you to drive a bus and have me come on, not pay the fare, verbally abuse you and then hit/choke & SPIT in your face and see what your reaction would be.

This wildebeast came on smelling like alcohol, has apparently been shot four times before and had been stabbed and doesnt have the common sense to not start a fight she cant win. Not to mention she has a daughter at home (god help that child).

She became a threat and you feminists want a man to show restraint when SHE endangered the lives of all the passengers on the bus AS WELL as everyone on the streets. But hey, lets just try and hold this scums hands so we can wait for the police to come around. Hell, lets not even think that she might be carrying a gun or a knife in her bag.

Even after being thrown off the bus this thing decided to come back on for more.

She got what she deserved and i hope the gets more in terms of assault charges and fines + ban from public transportation. Her kid will be forever known as the daughter of the hoodrat wildebeast that got uppercutted.

TiffJ said...

Vent. Tell 'em why you mad! I know folks feel passionately about this incident. It still doesn't change my stance that BOTH parties reacted horribly, and I point out why Artis Hughes was also WRONG, begrudgingly... because I do it at the risk of seeming as if I'm justifying Shi'dea's behavior, when I'm NOT... but I won't keep pointing that out beyond this note, because it derails from the crux of my argument.

She came on there acting the fool, and we can ALL agree about that... and HE helped escalate it by exchanging insults and making threats of his own. Period.

And as someone who routinely uses and appreciates the convenience of public transportation, I have zero issues with bus drivers reinforcing the rules within the bounds of protocol. In fact, I LOVE when they do. I've also witnessed them DEESCALATE potentially violent situations, and many have intimated to me, that bus fare isn't WORTH going back and forth with a combative passenger.

Perhaps the Greater Cleveland RTA will use this as an opportunity to enact or at least better ENFORCE rules that protect its drivers.

The racist and misogynist comments I noted and OFTEN read about violence against Black women BEYOND this incident, the internalized patriarchy folks are spewing about women NEEDING to respect men just because they're men, and people using this incident to say hateful things about Black women as an ENTIRE GROUP deserving to be assaulted, because of how THIS woman acted though? Not cool. You don't have to agree, I don't EXPECT you to, and go ahead rail against feminists... you're entitled. *Shrugs*

fuzz said...

We arent talking about this incident being linked to any other incident. This incident is being examined on its own. Dont need to try and bring in the entire black american history into this conversation. This is more a double standard issue than it is racist.

Im sure maybe about .01% of people are saying what you are suggesting. This thing needed to respect Hughes. not because hes a man, but because hes a human being. I also havent read any EDUCATED comments about how an entire group of people deserve to be assaulted. You should probably stop reading so many youtube comments.

This wildebeast got what she deserved, NOT because shes a black woman, NOT because men are superior to women, NOT because black women as an entire group deserve to be assaulted, but because her actions constituted a reaction and that reaction was an uppercut.

TiffJ said...

@Fuzz: Actually I didn't read any of the YouTube comments. When I'm researching a piece, I like to get the full scope of what's going on, including people's comments/feedback regarding the matter, and most of those comments came from news sources I read about the incident.

And perhaps you missed the 1st comment about my op-ed somehow "disrespecting ALL men including Chris Brown" but feedback and emails I've been getting have been along those lines and much worse.... suggesting this incident is indicative of the reason why BLACK women needed to learn how to RESPECT ALL MEN, I'm not sure how citing instances of racist and misogynist comments about Black women DESERVING to be assaulted and acting as if we all operate as a monolith, because of how THIS ONE acted, qualifies as bringing the "entire Black American history" into the conversation, but whatevs. I'll let that comment cook.

Folks will continue to have differing viewpoints about this incident and as I mentioned before, everyone's entitled to their perspective.

fuzz said...

You shouldnt allow yourself to be trolled by idiots on this site then. No one knows what happened in the car with Chris Brown, but we can see what happened here so there is context. For all we know, she couldve spit and choked Chris Brown too, but we dont so it just comes down to the fact he hit her.

Anonymous said...

I was once told by a woman "If a woman don't want to be hit by a man, she shouldn't hit a man". Saying that I don't approve of random attacks, but I so approve of self defense and the word "self-defense" is not bias. The only victims were the passengers on the bus that had to witness this. He was wrong for not staying professional and she was wrong for attacking him. Was the punch excessive? No because someone will most often be over powered in a fight. Men do a better job at picking there battles, but most woman don't when it comes to hitting a man. I will not go into a rant but I will close with "People should not hit and think they shouldn't be hit back. Cause and effect"