Hate-crime Perpetrator Pleads Guilty of Assault, Terroristic Threats

PLANO: Esmeralda Upton of Plano, Texas pleaded guilty on Friday, June 14 to three counts of assault and one count of making terrorist threats over her unprovoked, racist attack on four Indian-American women. The hate crimes, captured on smartphone video, took place in the parking lot near the Sixty Vines restaurant in Plano on August 24, 2022.
As the four friends walked through the parking lot after their meal chatting with one another, Upton—a complete stranger to them all, accosted them. She screamed “I hate you fucking Indians.” As she now admits, during the encounter, she assaulted at least three of the women including Anamika Chatterjee, and threatened to shoot them—the terroristic threat to which Upton pleaded guilty.
Upton’s hate went viral, garnering widespread outrage throughout the world. The videos show Upton shouting at Ms. Chatterjee and her companions. “I hate you fucking Indians,” she screamed, “We don’t want you here!” .She called the friends “curry-ass bitches.”
When Ms. Chatterjee and the other women asked Upton to leave them alone, Upton yelled, “Go back to India!” and “If things are so great in your country, then stay there!”
Ms. Chatterjee and her three friends are all American citizens.
The videos also show Upton with her hand in her handbag, threatening to “blow your fucking curry—” and “fucking shoot your ass.”
After police finally arrived, according to a police report, Upton admitted she had hit Ms. Chatterjee and her friends, but claimed they were “videoing and saying all of this shit that I wasn’t doing,” adding, “That’s what they do. Just like the Black people.”
Following Upton’s guilty plea but before her sentencing, Ms. Chatterjee said the following to the Court, “The nightmare of August 24, 2022 will forever haunt me and my family. To be attacked for my race and appearance is very hard to get past. I have now lived in the United States for 25 years. This is where my children were born. To Esmeralda Upton, the perpetrator of this unprovoked attack against us, your hate-driven actions have affected me deeply. My American-born children look like Indians. Because of your hatred and attack, I am now constantly scared for them. That’s the worst effect of what you did to me—that constant worry and anxiety. It continues to astonish me that a person with a minority background like yourself—which you bragged about during the incident—would behave like this, without a trace of shame.
“And I no longer feel safe even talking with friends in a public area. You’ve affected my ability to just live a normal life and experience those normal moments of enjoyment without fear or worry.
“I have not gone back to the Sixty Vines restaurant since that day and don’t think I ever will. Your behavior cast a stain on that once-welcoming place for me. You are responsible for them losing my business.
“But my pride as a person of Indian origin remains intact. We value peace, family, education, righteousness, and the rule of law. My faith in humanity as a whole is also not changed, because people of all races have shown me support and compassion after your attack.
The charges and conviction included a hate-crime specification under Texas law.
The court sentenced Upton to 40 days of incarceration at the Collin County jail, allowing her to serve on weekends, starting July 19, 2024. He warned her that if she fails to appear or shows up late even once, she will serve all of the time consecutively.
The sentence was part of a plea deal struck between the Collin County District Attorney’s office and Ms. Upton’s counsel. As part of that deal, Upton also surrendered her concealed handgun license and will not be allowed to own a firearm for two years.
Upton apologized to neither the court nor the victims of her racist crimes.
Ms. Chatterjee’s lead counsel, Subodh Chandra, said, “Upton’s failure to apologize today or express the slightest contrition shows that she’s not sorry in the least. Still, today’s guilty pleas and sentence to imprisonment of Esmeralda Upton are a step toward holding her accountable, not only as just punishment for her hate crimes, but so others are deterred from engaging in this type of reprehensible behavior.”
The pending civil suit against Upton brought by the victims states claims for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. Now that Upton has pleaded guilty, under Texas law she cannot escape civil liability on the assault-and-battery claims, and likely the intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim as well.
Ms. Chatterjee is represented by Subodh Chandra and Donald P. Screen of The Chandra Law Firm in Cleveland, with local Dallas counsel Bryan A. Garner and Karolyn H.C. Garner of Garner & Garner.