Classic Viral Video: 67-year-old Vietnam vet defends himself against bully on bus

Friday, May 01, 2020

It was a mild, sunny winter day in Oakland. No one riding the bus that day could have possibly predicted they would bear witness to what would become one of the most viewed viral videos of the year. The events in the bus were recorded by a local resident named Iyanna Washington.

In the video, a bearded 67-year-old man named Thomas Bruso is seen wearing a light blue T-shirt that reads “I AM a M*ther F*cker” on the back.

Bruso is seated across from a man named Michael Lovette near the rear of the bus. Exactly how the argument started is unclear, but the conversation quickly became heated, with Lovette angrily asking Bruso, “Why’s a brother got to spit shine your shoes?” Bruso has stated in later interviews that Lovette tried to make his statement racial. Bruso then tells Lovette how he was referring to a person that “was gonna shine his shoes” and that a brother “could be anyone, he could be a Chinaman!”

After a charged exchange, Bruso says, “you ain’t scaring this white boy,” and walks away from Lovette to the front of the bus.

Much of their conversation is inaudible, and some riders discourage Lovette from approaching Bruso, while others such as Washington encourage him to attack, saying “Say it again, Pinky!” When the verbal exchange starts to die down again, Lovette begins walking back to his seat, at which point Bruso yells “I see tough guys like you and I slap the shit out of them!” Lovette responds “What!?”, turns around and walks back toward Bruso, and swings at Bruso.

Bruso stands and punches Lovette several times, knocking Lovette to the floor. View of the men is lost briefly while Washington moves closer to the commotion; when view resumes, Bruso is shown with Lovette, who is now bleeding from facial injuries, in his grasp. Bruso releases Lovette, exclaiming “I told you not to fuck with me!”, and then exits the bus, and is still yelling when the bus makes its next stop. After another exchange, Lovette returns to his seat in the rear of the bus. Washington then takes a bag Bruso left behind and carries it to the back of the bus. Washington offers Lovette the use of her recording if he wishes to press charges, but Lovette never acknowledges the offer, instead requesting an ambulance.