At first blush, Juan Ayala probably looks like your regular-degular Dominican dude from Brooklyn. But the security guard and radio personality went viral last December after filming, confronting, and then performing a citizen’s arrest on “Subway Susan,” real name Anna Lushchinskaya, a white woman caught assaulting and launching racist slurs at fellow straphangers during their morning commute.
Ayala, who goes by the nickname Platano Man on his social media handles on his podcast, captured most of the incident on his phone—but what wasn’t captured in the viral series of videos he posted on Twitter was the moment he intervened.
“It was at a point where she started yelling out racial slurs and I realized that nobody in that train was doing anything realistic to stop her that I felt like the joke had to be put to the side and I had to take action,” Ayala told The Root. Before jumping in, he had filmed Lushchinskaya with that specific blend of incredulity and “it’s too early for this shit”-ness common to New Yorkers.
Ayala disarmed Lushchinskaya after the 40-year-old lawyer attempted to swing at his face with her keys, employing a simple technique familiar to anyone who’s taken a self-defense or entry-level martial arts class. After taking her down, Ayala held her hands behind her back and waited, alongside other passengers, for the police to come.
It was, in short, a citizen’s arrest. And while Ayala demo’ed the technique for us (and made it look, well, easy), he emphasized to The Root how scared he was as he waited for officers to show up.
“I knew what the situation looked like from a third perspective. I mean you’ve got a tall black guy with a beard detaining a little blond lady,” he said. Luckily, Ayala had the backup of fellow passengers, who were able to explain the situation to police once they arrived on the scene.
As it turns out, Lushchinskaya was a repeat offender—according to a criminal complaint from earlier in 2018, Lushchinskaya allegedly pepper-sprayed another man on the D train.
To find out one way you can clean up your city—one racist commuter at a time—peep Ayala’s technique. Oh, and be sure to work those angles.