JAMAICA – Three men were recorded on camera arguing at a grocery store in Jamaica, VT. WCAX in Burlington reports that Terrence Russo was having a conversation in American Sign Language (ASL) with a hearing companion in the check-out area of D&K’s grocery store when another man in line interrupted the conversation.
In a video posted on social media, the man points to Russo’s hands and verbally tells him to stop making “gang gestures” or he would “call ICE on [him].” The video goes on to show the man getting angry with Russo and telling him he should “go back to [his] own country.” He is also caught saying he hoped that President Trump would deport Russo and others like him.
Russo’s companion, who recorded the video, can be heard telling the man, “He’s deaf. He can’t hear what you’re saying,” as Russo tries unsuccessfully to communicate with the man.
“Well obviously he’s not listening,” the man responds angrily. “A real American would talk to me instead of making crazy devil signs at me.”
“No, no,” says the companion. “He was born like this.”
“Oh, yeah?” says the man, and gets in Russo’s face. “If you can’t talk and act like a real American then go back to where you were born!”
A visibly shaken Russo puts his hands up and steps back, trying to keep some space between him and the other man, who continues the encounter for nearly two minutes.
At one point, the man turns to other customers in line. “Are you blind to what’s going on?” he shouts, gesturing to Russo. “Our country is being overrun by half-wits!” One of those customers, who happens to be blind, can be seen in the video turning up the volume on their air pods.
A lawyer for the National Deaf Education Center confirmed that deaf American-born individuals are, in fact, legal citizens as much as Americans who can hear. “Citizenship has never required the ability to listen to another person,” she noted.
Although police responded to a call from the scene, Russo told WCAX that he declined to seek any charges. He also says he regrets throwing in some insults of his own. “I should not have responded in anger,” he said through an interpreter. “But I think the only thing he understood was my middle finger.”