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The AC Transit Bus fight is a viral video clip of an altercation between a white man who claims to be 67 years old and a black man who claims to be 50 years old aboard a bus,[1] which took place on February 15, 2010, at approximately 3:00 p.m. in Oakland, California.

A video of the confrontation posted on YouTube soon went viral and, as of March 15, 2010, has received four million views on various blogs and websites. It ranked among the top five most viewed videos on YouTube in its first week, but was not included in the official list.[2][3] Numerous racially charged comments were left on the YouTube page.[4] The event raised concerns following a number of previous incidents involving violence on the public transport system in Oakland.[5]



The incident took place aboard an AC Transit bus.

The incident took place on a downtown Oakland Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) bus bound for San Francisco, and involved a black man, identified only as Michael,[6] and an older white bearded man identified as Thomas Alexander Bruso,[7][6] who later came to be referred to as "Epic Beard Man".[8][9] The events in the bus were recorded by Iyanna Washington, an Oakland college student.[10] It is her video which later went viral.

In the video, Bruso is seen wearing a light blue T-shirt that reads "I AM a Motherfucker" on the back. He exchanges words with Michael, who sits across from him at the rear of the bus. The words exchanged by Michael and Bruso start off as racially charged. The verbal sparring continues as Bruso walks away, moving to a seat at the front of the bus. Michael follows Bruso to the front of the bus, making verbal threats. Some riders try to discourage Michael from attacking Bruso, and he briefly turns toward the back of the bus. Some riders on the bus used racial slurs to encourage Michael to attack the seated Bruso. Michael returns to the front of the bus and hits Bruso, who then stands and retaliates with several quick blows, knocking Michael to the floor of the bus. Michael is revealed to be bleeding from facial injuries. Bruso then exits the bus, yelling, when it stops at Harrison and Webster Street near Lake Merritt. Washington offers to help Michael by letting him use the videotape for legal purposes if he wishes to sue. She also runs up to where Bruso sat and grabs his bag, carrying it to the back of the bus, where voices can be heard discussing "go through that shit" referring to Bruso's belongings.[11]

In a second video, Bruso, now on the street, continues to yell about the fight. He loudly mentions Vietnam and kicks a newspaper dispenser before walking away.[11]

Both men were treated at a local hospital for their injuries. Bruso also underwent psychiatric evaluation at John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro. Neither man was arrested.[12][13]


Videographer's response

On February 17, 2010, Washington[10] posted her own perspective on the events as a response video on YouTube. In this video, she said she hoped to "clear the air." Reading a prepared statement, she denied charges that she took Bruso's bag after the altercation.[14] Washington also appeared in a CBS video interview giving her version of events.[7][15]

Thomas Bruso

Bruso, born in Michigan,[16] is a self-proclaimed Vietnam veteran who has a history of run-ins with the police. He was stunned with a Taser twice at the Oakland Coliseum by police on August 3, 2009, for failing to comply with police officers. He was charged with resisting arrest and taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. That incident was also filmed and uploaded to YouTube.[12]

Bruso was the subject of several interviews, among those one shot in San Francisco by KRON on February 19, 2010.[17][18] Nathan Maas, a graphic designer from Portland, Oregon, produced a documentary short entitled I Am a Motherfucker, in which Bruso is interviewed about his personal background, day-to-day activity, and thoughts on his contemporary celebrity status. The documentary was uploaded to YouTube.[16][19][15]


The black male, identified only as Michael, was interviewed on the set of San Francisco Bay Area radio talk show Dog House FM on February 22, 2010, where he issued an apology to AC Transit, the people who were present on the bus at the time of the incident, and to Bruso for instigating the fight. He claims in the interview he tried to calm down Bruso, and that he was intoxicated while he was on the bus. Michael also said Bruso's accusations in one interview of Michael's being a convicted murderer on parole and brandishing a knife at Bruso after the fight are not true.[20]

The spread of the meme

Within a short time of the original video "going viral", musical and animated parodies about the fight began to appear on YouTube[9] in a manner similar to the way parodies spread after the "Don't tase me, bro!" University of Florida Taser incident. The Huffington Post called the AC Transit Bus Fight "the fastest growing public fight meme ever".[8] Original songs, remixes, animations, "tributes", and other derivative and reflective videos, slide shows, and photo galleries dedicated to the event and its participants were also hosted at newly opened Internet domains with names that derived from aspects of the event.[1]

Typical of the adaptations of the original video that focused on the fight as a form of video game was a Mortal Kombat parody called "Epic Beard Man – Mortal Kombat Style".[21][15]

A female passenger seen sitting nearby the incident, wearing headphones and purple stockings, has also received a lot of attention due to her sitting unfazed throughout the incident. Her name unknown, she has been dubbed Amber Lamps due to Michael's mispronunciation of the word "ambulance".[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Epic Beard Man on Know Your Meme". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  2. ^ Gomez, Cina (February 17, 2010). "Fight Breaks Out In AC Transit Bus". Thaindian News. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  3. ^ "AC Transit bus fight unnerves commuters in California". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  4. ^ Gay, Mara. "Racially Charged Fight on Oakland Bus Gets Even Uglier on YouTube". AOL News. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  5. ^ Farrell, Michael B. (17 February 2010). "Fights on public transit: Oakland bus fracas is latest flash point". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Dog House FM (20 February 2010). "AC TRANSIT BUS FIGHT-- Interview w Tom (Epic Beard Man) & Parody Song". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Witness: Oakland Bus Fight Racially Tinged". CBS News. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Why 'Epic Beard Man' Is The Fastest Growing Public Fight Meme Ever". The Huffington Post. 20 February 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "'Racially-charged' fight on U.S. bus becomes YouTube hit". The Daily Mail. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Wild Fight On Transit Bus Caught On Tape". KOVR-TV. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Associated Press. "Raw Video: Fist Fight Aboard Oakland Bus". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  12. ^ a b Woodall, Angela (February 19, 2010). "AC Transit bus brawler has video past". San Jose Mercury. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  13. ^ "Fight on AC Transit bus caught on video". KGO-TV. February 17, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  14. ^ Abraham, Zennie. "City Brights: Zennie Abraham : AC Transit Bus Fight - YouTuber iyannaw08 talks about video". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  15. ^ a b c Yoo, Aileen (March 2, 2010). "The obsession with AC Transit brawler, a.k.a. Epic Beard Man". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  16. ^ a b Maas, Nathan (February 26, 2010). "I Am a Motherfucker: Part One". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  17. ^ "Epic Beard Man Interview". YouTube. February 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  18. ^ "AC Transit Says Bus Driver Followed Protocol During Fight on Bus in Oakland". KRON 4. February 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  19. ^ Maas, Nathan (February 26, 2010). "I Am a Motherfucker: Part Two". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  20. ^ Dog House FM (February 22, 2010). "AC Transit Bus Fight - Interview MICHAEL THE BLACK GUY THAT GOT BEAT UP - Epic Beard Man". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  21. ^ Zierlein, Lance (February 19, 2010). "The Z Report". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  22. ^

External links


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