SEATTLE — The man in a now-viral video, seen hurling racial slurs at a black man in Seattle's Beacon Hill, pleaded not guilty to harassment and obstruction.
Keoke Silvano witnessed what happened.
“It went from, I guess, a moment of shock to anger,” Silvano explained.
His emotions quickly turned to action.
“Just as a photographer, my instinct is to document, so I pulled out my cellphone and started recording,” Silvano added.
Silvano, who is also an academic adviser at the University of Washington, had just gotten off work and exited the Beacon Hill Station Friday afternoon.
“I noticed who he was yelling at so I wanted to make myself, wedge myself between him and the gentleman sitting down," he said.
Silvano said he was trying to position himself to protect the man being harassed.
Silvano, who is Filipino, says he wasn't sure what would happen, only that the situation was very tense.
“The main thing is if something happened either to myself or the gentleman sitting here I would have some sort of living document of what was happening,” Silvano said.
Police later arrested the man, identified as 35-year-old Steven Jay Watts, for harassment and obstruction.
He appeared in Seattle Municipal Court where the judge expressed concern after the city attorney listed a rap sheet that includes four assault convictions.
“I'm getting harassed everywhere I go in this country. Everywhere in this country I get harassed," Watts said in court after he pleaded not guilty.
Silvano's video also shows two white men confront Watts.
“It was encouraging to have allies in that moment,” Silvano said.
Since Silvano posted his video online, it's gone viral. He said he shared it to expose the hate he says exists in areas even as diverse as Beacon Hill.
“It really says something about what our community as a whole have to deal with, “ he added. “People of color have to deal with on a daily basis.”
Watts is being held on a $10,000 bond.
His next court date is scheduled for June 25.
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