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Plano woman pleads guilty to hate crime charges after viral video

People gathered in Plano's Haggard Park Saturday to support four South Asian women who were the targets of a racist rant a week ago.
Caroline Love
Several people rallied in Plano after a racist attack against four South Asian women in 2022. The woman who told the women to go back to their country in a viral video recently pleaded guilty to four hate crime charges.

A woman in Plano who went viral on social media for yelling racist comments at a group of South Asian women in Plano has been convicted of four hate crimes.

Esmerelda Upton pleaded guilty to four state hate crime charges in a Collin County court. She also was convicted on three misdemeanor assault charges and a misdemeanor terroristic threat charge.

Greg Willis, the Collin County District Attorney, said in a statement shared with KERA that people in the United States shouldn't have to fear racially motivated assaults like what occurred in Plano.

"America is the only nation on earth defined more by its ideals than by race or ethnicity," Willis said.

The Collin County District Attorney's Office said Upton was sentenced to two years of community supervised probation and forty days in jail for each case. The jail sentence will be served concurrently. She also has four fines totaling $2,000.

A video of Upton went viral two years ago. She approached four South Asian women outside the Sixty Vines restaurant in Plano and told them to go back to their country.

“We don’t want you here,” Upton said. “If things are so great in your country, then stay there.”

The confrontation was recorded in a video that went viral on social media. The next day, police arrested Upton.

Chanda Parbhoo, the founder of South Asian American Voter Empowerment Texas, told KERA in a previous interview that anti-Asian hate is on the rise in Collin County, especially in Plano.

"We continuously see racial crimes that continue to happen, and the only way we're going to do something about it is if we keep amplifying and making sure that people don't forget," Parhboo said.

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Caroline Love is a Report For Americacorps member for KERA News.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.