Video of the incident, which shows several men taunting a male commuter who appears to be of mixed race, quickly drew outrage after being posted online.
The incident occurred about 7.40 a.m. local time. The video shows the victim in a heated exchange with the suspects, who call him an “immigrant” and tell him to “get back to Africa.” Several of the suspects appear to be holding bottles of beer, and at one point a suspect tries to flick some of it on the victim.
The subject of the abuse asks one of the suspects if he is a teenager before saying he had lived in the United Kingdom longer than the assailant. Other commuters on the train appear to come to the victim’s defense.
Greater Manchester Police said three males — ages 20, 18 and 16 — were arrested on suspicion of affray and were being held for questioning. Their names were not made public.
Although the suspects in the video do not allude to Brexit, the incident occurred amid a rise in hate crimes following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
There was a 57% increase in reporting of hate crimes in the UK during this weekend following the Brexit vote, according to True Vision, the police-funded website designed to provide the public with information about hate crimes.
“All hate incidents are treated with the upmost severity and this behaviour will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester,” said GMP Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin.
Andy Burnham, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour shadow cabinet, said that “people in Greater Manchester who voted Leave did not vote for this.” Burnham is bidding to become Labour’s Manchester mayoral candidate in 2017.
Manchester’s police commissioner, Tony Lloyd, said that people in the city have worked hard to build “strong, cohesive, and welcoming communities,” and that there is no room there for hatred and division.
Amnesty International announced a new campaign on Tuesday to combat the reported rise in racial abuse following the so-called Brexit referendum.
“Some people now feel licensed to express racist views in a way we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty’s UK director.
“The referendum campaign was marked by divisive, xenophobic rhetoric as well as a failure from political leaders to condemn it. We are now reaping the referendum rhetoric whirlwind,” she said. “We’re simply not prepared to stand by and let hate become the norm in Britain.”
By Donie O’Sullivan, CNN
CNN’s Brandon Griggs contributed to this story.