An Unpleasant Walk Home at 1:32 AM

I don’t even really know how to start this encounter. Perhaps I didn’t make the wisest decision walking home from Wonderland at 1:32 in the morning. At any rate I had made it most of the way home until I was just a few short blocks from home. I see a guy urinating on a tree. I’m not happy but whatever it is late and I just want to get home. Well, as he finishes up he waves to the car he is near and three guys step out. At this point I am just approaching him and I start to get a little nervous. He looks me in the eye and says “how you doin’ man?” (He is Latino and it was heavily accented. This comment will make sense in a little bit.) I respond I’m alright. Now let me just add an aside here. I think I have perfected the late night walk. I don’t walk too fast and I don’t walk too slow. I don’t keep my head down but I don’t stare people in the face either. I try and portray a fairly confident fellow. Ok, back to the story. After I respond that I am fine he says “alright, man. White power!”. Now, I am not drunk at this point but I was a little buzzed. After he said White Power, every single hair on body stood on end. Holy shit, I’m thinking, White power, what the hell does that mean? Why would anyone say that? And why would a Latino person say that? So I take a few more steps hoping that I don’t get my skull smashed open in a few seconds. I can feel them all right behind me. So like Carl Lewis in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics I sprint like no mere mortal has sprinted before. I mean I was flying. I’m a pretty fast guy anyway but I think this display would have impressed most Big Ten coaches. I can only conclude that it so startled them that they didn’t have the time to decide to chase me down. I sprinted about four blocks before I turned around and thankfully didn’t see them. I made it home, poured myself a shot of Powers Irish whiskey and thanked my lucky stars. So please someone explain this encounter to me. Why did the guy say white power to me? Secondly, how come they didn’t chase me down? Am I totally overreacting?

76 Comment

  • I don’t know what you look like, but my guess would be that if you look anglo-saxon then they were being sarcastic and probably were going to jump you. Right now imegration is a big political issue and they may try to use that as an excuse to harrass you. In any case, I think you did the right thing by booking.

  • man, that sucks! You know why they said it, they said it to goad you. At the best, they said it so you’d stop and be confused and all they’d need would be an extra few seconds to get you within machete or tire iron range.

    Anyone waving to people who got out of a car did it to rob you or rape you or worse.

    Do not walk home at that time of night, ever. Call a cab. Man, 25 years ago I knew someone who was followed home by someone in a car in the suburbs(!) at midnight and since then I don’t walk anywhere after 10pm and why should anyone? What’s worse, dropping a tenner on a cab or getting mugged after spending $2 on metro?

  • Power’s??” Jameson’s is much nicer. Or Tullamore Dew.

    I would have run too. That sounds scary.

  • Sorry to hear that happened and I agree with the previous post that said if you had not run, you would have been attacked. Thankfully, you were not harmed.

    Once again, another white person minding his own business is targeted and as in past attacks, the perpetrators make statements about the victim’s white skin. I would like to see some acknowledgement that in spite of being law-abiding and productive community members, whites experience violent racism in this city.

    I am tired of the double standard and always having to watch my back.

  • No doubt, that was an unpleasant walk home. I agree with the others, he probably made the comment to goad you on. And luckily your sprinting abilities saved your ass.
    That said, I find it interesting that everyone here is so certain these guys would have jumped you. Yes, that is a definite possibility, but they were maybe just verbally harassing you. It happens all the time. The assumption that these guys were definitely planning to kick your ass is a bit odd, in my opinion. Luckily, we’ll never know their true intentions, but I just thought I’d point out that it isn’t unthinkable that they were just being assholes and trying to embarass you.
    Glad you’re safe.

  • The answer to whether they would or would not have attacked you is irrelevant since we’ll never know. Whenever anyone, man or woman, feels threatened or intuits that they are in danger – I say trust that instinct. More often than not your instincts are right.

  • Geezer,
    I am not white. But I agree with you. Look a tth eattacks on the subway in NY, Baltimore, and DC for instance. Those have been black on white or black on latino attacks for the most part. Yet, you ararely ever hear of the perpetrators beign charged with hate crimes. That would piss me off if I were white.

  • Hey PoP,

    Next time, make friends by saying, “Que onda pendejo.” Make sure you use your best Tommy Chong voice when you do it though.

  • Wow…Quite the harrowing experience… And some interesting interpretations of the guy’s statement….It’s possible the guy was being sarcastic, but then, there is a lot of largely unspoken tension between blacks and Latinos-so ( and I know some of you won’t consider this possibility) he could have been serious.. Nonetheless, I’m not a big advocate for late night urban strolls… Be careful!!!

  • I’m pretty sure you avoided a beatdown/robbery. The utterance of random or racist crap is often used as an attempt to engage the victim in conversation. Your reaction to this helps the attackers gauge your level of alertness and potential to resist the attack. If more folks trusted their gut & just got out of the situation like you did there’d be a whole lot fewer ‘incidents’ like this in the neighborhood.

  • Interesting story…

    About 5 years ago I was walking back to my apartment around 1am just a little drunk but not badly and knew to be careful. I get within a few blocks of home when I come across this guy kneeling by a bench with his head down muttering. I keep on walking but now I keep checking to make sure he’s not following me.

    Of course now my heart is going and I am thinking what can I use to fight this guy off. Next time I look back his head sudeenly comes up and he start’s running towards me. Just like you I take off at a dead sprint and within minutes am in the door at the aprtment complex and the lobby guard is there so I stop to catch my breath and calm down.

    After a minute the guy ont he bench walks in! It turns out he lives int he same building and was just out for a run and had stopped to pray! My thug turned out to be a christian jogger who couldnt sleep so he went out for a late night run!

  • Urinating on a tree… maybe he too was drunk and has a limited English vocabulary.

  • It would be interesting if the Cops had an undercover operation that had some undercover decoys out and about between – oh, let’s say midnight and 4 am. – just to see who bites. Seems a lot better than just taking robbery reports from victims after the fact.

  • damn, you ran like a little girl!!

  • I think the guy that posted this^ comment was also trying to kick your ass

  • Otis Gal- I agree that this could be the case. Regardless, running never hurt anyone. People are always saying “Don’t walk home alone at night,” but what are you supposed to do? I live on Otis as well and taking a cab from wonderland or Derby would be demoralizing. You can get mugged in Columbia Heights just as easily as Dupont. Just be smart and hope for the best is my advice (to others and myself).

  • I think you did the right thing. I don’t know what they were up to — I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, but you were smart to get out of there. I assume you didn’t think those 4 guys were just peacefully going into Acuario or a corner store or some other business establishment ? Was this close to any main road or other business?

  • maybe he was just offering you some respect, and they were following you so they could shake your hand and spread the love.

  • i can see how from your perspective that you had a feeling that something was going down. the whole motioning his boys to get out the car really gives me that feeling too. i don’t know if i would’ve broken into an all out sprint but i most def would’ve kept myself moving in the direction of my house. this reminds me of a story:

    when i was in high school, me and my boy were hanging out in our parents ‘hood (and by hood i mean the palisades, so far from “hood”) we were sitting on a bench by a bus stop at about 3 am when 2 large black dudes came around the corner talking about taking the bus. (1st, no bus in dc runs at 3am, and 2nd the minority population in the palisades is pretty slim.) as they are doing this i notice some other kid creeping around the corner. they proceed to go back around the corner, while me and my boy talk about splitting up and heading home. within seconds, 3 dudes are in front of us, one weilding a baseball bat. i get smacked in the head hard and somehow start running towards home. the dude with the bat chases me about half a block until i trip and fall on the sidewalk. i get hit once in the leg and then dude leaves me alone. as i stand up i hear a dog banrking in the house next to me and i see my boy with 2 dudes surrounding him. they fight for a sec and then those 2 guys split. i jogged home and my boy met me there a few minutes later. he tells me that the knife that he was carrying came in handy cuz he got the dudes to leave him alone after stabbing one. so i think between the dog barking and my friend stabbing one of them, we got away. of course after that i never quite felt safe in the palisades for some time, a very safe neighborhood where i never thought twice previously.

    also, these dudes where involved in at least 2 other similar incidents one previous to ours a ways down the same street we were on where they hit a biker with a bat while leaning out a mini-van window. and another similar one is silver spring. i think they were caught after that one.

    so i find it interesting that living in the columbia heights (park view) neighborhood i actually feel more confortable. i think its the fact that there is more street activity but i also know that there is a higher percent chance of something happening.

  • You should just make it a practice to run over from the bar every night. It not only will get you home safe, but you will feel better in the morning.

  • How scary and how fortunate that you are OK. I repeat what others have said: don’t walk home after dark. What are you supposed to do? Take a cab, or if you live too close, drive. If you don’t have a car, get a ride or has anyone ever considered, don’t go out and stay home?

  • p.s. your story reminds me of an encounter i had in denmark in the early ’90s. i was in a cemetery in copehnagen, looking for the grave of ben webster, the great african american saxophonist. it was about 11 in the morning.. map notwithstanding, i was lost.
    suddenly, five white guys approached me-dog in tow… my mind is going a million miles a minute… thinking very “american” thoughts… stuff like “i can maybe hit one or two of them”… or “what if i end up in the hospital”. (turns out i did have to go later…. a sinus infection…. but never mind) the guys surround me…. one says…. “what are you looking for?” i tell them…. they fan out and help me find the gravestone… of course, by then i was sweating bullets-no, howitzers…i realize these were different circumstances-but… well, like i said, im glad you are allright. that is the most important thing..

  • the reason I know they were going to rob you is because this same pattern has happened a dozen or more times in Columbia Heights. Only my wife was mugged in a different fashion (she was followed and the guy panicked and tried to steal her purse). Anyone thinking we “jumped the gun” by thinking of this as a crim is a fool. The get out of a car and rob or rape someone pattern has been going on all summer/fall.

    When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

    But PoP? You never wrote what the cops said when you reported the make and model of the car and the perpetrators’ descriptions. Were the cops looking for those guys? Were they already wanted for rape or robbery?

  • Toby said “Don’t go out and stay home.”

    That has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve read all day (and I work for a certain federal agency not commonly known for its brilliance). What are we supposed to do, sit at home all day cowering in fear? Don’t go out past 5 P.M.? Move to Fargo, ND?

    Absolutely not. Live your life, keep your head up, and make wise decisions. You will not avoid all crime but you will at least have a life worth living.

  • I was walking home from Wonderland on 12/12 at around 1am. I was way too drunk to be walking by myself but I figured it was only two blocks. About halfway down the street (I would believe the same) four guys started following me. Luckily my friend who owns a shop saw me walking and scared them off. He told me they looked intent on raping me….I was very lucky that night and I am glad you were just as lucky.

  • The idea that you should run from home every night is brilliant. I might start doing that myself.

  • That is a weird situation, I’m not sure what I would have done. I don’t think my first thought would have been that they were going to attack me. I was walking to the Fort Totten metro on the South Dakota Ave side and a Latino guy in the bus shelter asked me if I had a gun, I said no and kept walking. Didn’t really think anything more of that until now.

  • I’m glad you made it home safely. You were probably right to follow your instincts, those hairs sticking up. Based on your recollection, it sounded to me like they probably would’ve jumped you. The truth of the matter is crime rates increase in cities and we just have to be vigilant. I love walking through all parts of DC, but regardless of the time or location, I try to stay alert. This, of course, is made more difficult after a few cocktails have been washed down my gullet. But, I does what I can. SAFE & HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

  • Hank Greenberg — baseball
    Sandy Koufax — baseball
    Dolph Schayes — basketball
    Jay Fiedler — football
    Prince of Petworth — urban sprinting

    You are now a legend.

  • I did not say stay home and cower in fear. I said stay home, meaning if you have no safe way of getting to and from where you’re going, don’t go. Walking home after dark is NOT safe and walking home after dark a little drunk is asking for trouble incredibly dumb. Some of the previous posters have had amazing luck, almost hand-of-God supernatural luck. If suggesting to people to stay home rather than engage in obviously risky behavior, I have a nice house, a great kitchen and I drive.

  • Toby:

    I see your point, but at the same time, I’ve walked all over Petworth at all hours of the night for several years now (At various levels of sobriety), and haven’t had any problems thus far.

    I think it all comes down to choosing the best route, “walking tall”, and paying attention to your surroundings. Granted, I’m a guy, fairly tall and large, but I have been rolling the dice for years and haven’t been unlucky yet.

    The last few muggings around the Petworth Metro that I’ve read about featured people walking up unlit blocks while being followed by a crowd of kids. Come on! — that’s just stupid. Walk up Georgia, or another major artery, then split off when you’re alone and comfortable. Here’s an example from the archives of POP himself:

    No one is completely safe in this neighborhood, but if you’re always paying attention and making decisions based on what’s around you, you can hopefully avoid the worst. It’s worked for me over the last few years, and I’ll continue “taking my chances” by walking home after dark.

  • I’ve never owned a gun and never will. But I hope that one bi-product of the D.C. gun ban being overturned is that just enough area residents start packing, and using, firearms to start scaring off some of these guys. It’s us versus them (law abiding citizens vs. hooligans / gang members) and right now, us are losing, big time. I’m fed up to the point where I would welcome a Bernie Goetz type to take out a few muggers so that at least these guys have something to fear … because now they don’t, not from us, not from the lenient D.C. jail sentencing patterns (espcially for juveniles, who get a slap on their wrist), not from parents, and certainly not from the police.

    I agree with the suggestion of more police sting operations. There are tons of stings all the times of small time drug dealers. That is all well and good, but I am a lot more worried about getting mugged than a wholly voluntary drug transaction between two willing parties. Shouldn’t the police be devoting more resources to undercover busts of violent criminals?

    My only other hope is that when the 14th street corridor and Georgia Ave. are more developed, there will be that much more evening foot traffic making it tougher to pray on people. But that is a longer term hope.

  • i was walking home alone late in logan circle one nite when a guy in a hooded sweatshirt jumped in front of me and said he had a gun–i had a split second to decide what to do, as you did–and i responded the same way–i sprinted around him b/c i didn’t think that the gun was real….

  • Toby- Are you serious? One of the reasons people like DC, particularly areas like Columbia Heights and Petworth, is because you don’t need to have a car. I am a female and generally feel pretty safe walking home by myself. I stand tall (I am 5’11 though, so thats easy), walk with purpose and pay attention. A friend of mine lives just a block or 2 away so often we walk home from parties or Wonderland or whatever together and split at the end…
    If I wanted to stay inside unless I was driving my car to the fun then I would live in the burbs.
    And if anyone I lived with or knew drove a car to Wonderland I would never, ever stop giving them crap about it.

  • my lazy assroommate has been known to drive to wonderland once or twice(all of 3 blocks away). lazy ass… not scurrrrrrreed. lazy. i think i’ve given him enough shit that he may not anymore.

  • yall are funny.

    The dude was most likely drunk also and trying to fuk with you when he said “white power” . I think you did the right thing, Worse comes to worse they had a good laugh watching you run away.

    Do any of you (men) walk with mase or a knife or something?

  • one time in boston I walked into a ATM room that had a door that was broken and wide open. It was dark and even I was on high alert walking in there. There was this white guy in there all ready, when he looked over his shoulder, it looked like he had seen a ghost…and franticly started mashing buttons to get his card out, he grabbed his card and ran out of there so fast! that was mad funny. I dont blame him, I guess im a little “thuged out.”

  • Yes, I am absolutely serious. People put themselves in dangerous situations, get hurt and are surprised. Living here is no cool field trip or experience. It’s our only life and we have to live it wisely. I don’t put myself in situations where I could get knocked over the head for the $5 I have in my wallet. My children need their mother.
    If you don’t need a car, fine. But despite living in Petworth for several years, I still need a car to buy groceries (containers of milk and juice are heavy, as is kitty litter), and the icky Petworth Safeway is too many blocks away.
    How many of you who love this area will actually stay here when it’s time to have kids and put them in the neighborhood public schools (if any in Petworth besides Barnard) stay open?

  • Maybe he didn’t say “white power”, after all you did comment on his accent. I am glad you are safe and the wiser.

  • I’m really surprised by the fact this was a Latino guy. I’ve never once heard of anyone I know in DC being mugged or attacked by a Hispanic guy (although there have been incidents of random rape and attempted rapes, even out in the suburbs, where the perps were Hispanic. However, when it comes to crimes against men, everyone I know who’s had trouble has always had problems with blacks.

    It sounds like you did the right thing, though. I’m glad you’re OK.

  • And if anyone I lived with or knew drove a car to Wonderland I would never, ever stop giving them crap about it.

    In Mt Pleasant this summer an immigrant woman was brutally raped by 4 men at once while walking 3 blocks from the bus stop at midnight. The rape gang was caught after mugging someone the next night at the same location. I heard this info from a police officer who told me people weren’t talking about it because of the shocking nature of the crime. I cannot find any online articles to link to right now.

    Jim Graham has been talking about the roving gangs all Fall.

    That is the cold heart light of walking at night. I drive home my kids’ babysitter at night and it’s only 3 blocks away. I would be a horrible person to let someone walk home after midnight.

    I mean sheesh people, I was on H st ne waiting for a cab when a couple I knew from the neighborhood left a club and I waved to them and asked for a ride home, across town, which they gladly gave me because they were headed that way.

    Wait until the MPD clean up Petworth before putting your life on the line for the sin of pride.

  • I know many Latin immigrants both from my work and my own connections. So many of the women work in offices downtown cleaning (what they refer to as un par-tayn en la noche), meaning a part-time night job. They live in fear taking the bus back after work to Petworth, Columbiua Heights, Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan as they have to walk a few blocks from the bus stop home. They are not out drinking and dancing at some club and walking home half drunk. They are working minimum wage in whatever job they can find. The streets are dangerous at night and no matter how street smart you think you are, how much you like the neighborhood, there are too many reports of serious assaults, rapes and robbery, often unreported, for people to be walking home unless there is no other alternative. Use your heads.
    As for Hispanics, my husband is. The only time we were robbed was at around 7:00 in the evening, getting dark, walking home from the metro, by a drive-by gang who stopped us feet from our Petworth row house. And they said to my decent, immigrant husband, “Dame tu dinero”, in native Spanish, and drove off. This was a few years ago. To my knowledge, this Hispanic gang was never caught for this incident that left us shaken. But I believe in justice and know they must have be caught for another crime. They got his hard earned money pretty easily and probably struck again. Stay safe, people.

  • Folks may want to consider carrying pepper spray and/or a knife if they feel comfortable with the idea [or at least more comfortable than they would being robbed or assaulted]. A decent name brand pepper spray used by law enforcement would be best – I use ‘Fox 5.3’ and most mail order places will ship to DC [yes it’s legal here]. I’d also recommend getting an inert ‘practice’ canister to train with just so you’re sure the effective range & pattern of the spray should you have to use it. And though definitely a last-ditch type tool, a quick-open style folding pocket knife [DC law allows up to 3″] isn’t a bad idea – though some training is definitely a good idea with this. Krav-Maga schools often teach basic defensive knife use & retention – not sure if the one here in DC does

    As always though, the best tool is between your ears. Use common sense & follow your gut. If something doesn’t feel right get out of the situation/area fast – this is what POP did it may well have saved their butt.

  • Newbie: when I first read the post I read “white powder”. To me, that made more sense (i.e. someone soliciting drugs) and I couldn’t understand why he ran. So I reread it.

  • One thing I’ve learned from living in this city in Ledroit Park, Georgetown, Glover Park, Chevy Chase, Brightwood Park and now Petworth is that muggers and thugs do not discriminate. You can be mugged by a white person, a Latino, or a black person. They really don’t care what color you are. All they are looking for is opportunity. In the past we’ve had several servers have purses snatched or get mugged and we make sure everyone leaves the restaurant at night with an escort.

    Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are walking or driving. Long ago when I was in much better shape and worked out every morning I came home late from cooking on the line in my old Chevy Impala. It was about 2 am. While I was parking I noticed a guy sitting on the steps of my neighbors house. When I got out of my car and proceeded to walk up my stairs to my house I realized he knew he had picked the wrong steps. He asked me for a quarter. When I said no and turned my back on him he was behind me. And very close. Maybe 1 foot and a half taller than me and I could feel his breath on the top of my head. I was going through a divorce and kind of angry and full of hate. I wheeled around and faced him at the top of the stairs with my key in the door. I think he saw the fury in my face and recoiled a little. I could have easily shoved him so that he’d break his head on the hard cement of my porch stairs. I asked him, “What do you want, man?” a little of a growl in my voice. He ran. No, he flew down those stairs.

    Running was a smart thing. You did something they did not expect. I think a lot of thugs think folks will just tremble in fear. We often have to react aggresively and fast to get bums, thugs, beggars and the like from in front or inside our restaurant. We do what they don’t expect. Shout back at them. Swing a stick at them, whatever. And they come in all shapes sizes and colors. I could tell you stories.

  • They sell pepper spray at the army surplus store on Wisconsin avenue in Bethesda. I have several at the restuarant and at home. My daughter carries one. If I have to walk at night I make sure I have one with me.

  • Es impresionante el nivel de paranoia que muchos de ustedes demuestran en sus respuestas, aparte de sacar a colación sus grandes miedos y temores racistas. Primero que nada si este sujeto latino tenía un “fuerte acento” eso significa que tenía o tiene poco tiempo en este país. Luego se afirma que dicho sujeto dijo “White Power” Cónchale, ese latino me gustaría conocer, un latino con un fuerte acento que dice White Power, sería una excelente entrevista. Ustedes deberían de dejar de ser tan racistas y asumir que dos los hombres latinos los van a asaltar y a violar. No deja de sorprenderme el alto nivel de racismo escondido que llevan ustedes dentro. Nosotros los latinoamericanos somos la clase más explotada de este país y si buscan las razones las encontrarán muy cerca de ustedes, bajando por la 14 en la Casa Blanca.


    Néstor Sánchez

  • I agree with Toby and DCer. I’m really tired of, whenever someone talks about being cautious and streetwise on this board, there are some who will jump in immediately with a comment like “well, if you don’t feel safe walking around drunk in the early morning, move back to the suburbs, you wimp!” It’s not every commenter, of course, but this came up in another discussion some months ago. Exactly why do I have to take what I would consider to be unnecessary risks with my life just to prove my Petworth street cred to someone else? If any person wanted to give me shit for driving my car to a given location because I truly felt that was the *safest* way for me to get there and back, then that person and I would have to have serious words.

    It’s as if there is no in-between for some people: either we all must be yellowbellies cowering in our suburban mansions (like the suburbs don’t have crime, whatev) or we must all be out singing “I Feel Pretty” at the top of our lungs as we stroll down some darkened alley at 4 a.m. Some people just don’t feel comfortable with certain activities, like walking home alone late at night. Some people are fine with all sorts of things I consider risky, and I’m fine with them if they’re not hurting me. But it’s annoying that people are basically willing to call others cowards for making these very personal decisions related to safety.

    And while I’m stirring the pot — please, male commenters, can you keep in mind that women might have a different level of what feels safe and what doesn’t? And respect that? And also remember that most crime victims are men? I think that if more men were just a little bit more cautious, maybe that wouldn’t be such a problem.

  • Thank you Christina for your kind and sensible words. I was feeling quite dissed and even considered taking a break from the blog.

    Y para Nestor, claro que hay racismo en este país contra los latinos. Y que la gran mayoría de latinos, mejicanos, salvadoreños, bolivianos, etc vienen aquí para trabjar honestamente y mantener a sus familias. Pero al mismo tiempo, hay unos elementos de la comunidad que se meten en pandillas y ensucian la buena reputación de los demás.

  • Actually, latinos are often the victims of crimes in DC because criminals think that because of their status they won’t report crime. One of my prep cooks, a young woman from Guatemala was jumped as she got off of the bus. She has a tendency to carry a lot of cash–well, she doesn’t have a checking account and cashes her check and often has a lot of cash. She was obviously being watched and followed for days before the guy made his move. Shoved her and grabbed her bag.

    Everyone, man, woman, latina, latino, white, black need be alert. If you are walking at night–and you have every right to–just be aware of your surroundings. I change my pattern every once in a while.

    I’ve learned being in a car isn’t the safest. I had a guy run me off the road because he was drunk and didn’t think I moved on the green fast enough for him. He got on my bumper and ran me onto the shoulder.

  • Absolutely latinos are more crime victims than perps. Again, through my work and family connections, I hear constant anecdotes about hard-working Hispanic men and women immigrants getting robbed, assaulted, stabbed. Sometimes it’s of cash they are getting ready to wire to Central America to support families. Frequently they don’t even bother reporting it, not just because of immigration status. They’ll say, why bother? The police won’t do anything. And it’s generally not white people or other Hispanics doing the robbing. They quickly become racist, as usually their assailants are black.

  • Actually, my prep cook was mugged by a latino man. And black vs hispanic racism runs the gamut. I had a dishwasher from Honduras think that I was too dark to be her boss. Many blacks see hard working Latin Americans work hard and make lots of money scrimp and save and buy houses and cars. They are taking full advantage of the american dream while their black neighbors have lived in rentals or public housing for decades. It is a situation that breeds animosity.

  • I agree with the upthread comments that no matter if you’re white, black or brown, male or female, you need to do whatever you can to stay safe. I don’t advocate walking home alone at night, but if you don’t have or don’t want to use a cab, designated driver and so forth, walk home with a group of friends. There’s a safety in numbers.

  • I don’t understand how immigrants’ ability to work hard, save money and buy cars should cause anyone to feel any animosity. I used to teach English to adult immigrants, whom I was supposed to provide “survival skills.” They were in fact giving me survival skills about saving money, working extra hours whenever possible, eating out less and cooking more because it’s cheaper, going to thrift stores, keeping rent as low as possible by sharing etc. I have known so many mostly Central American immigrants with no more than a grade school education from some village schoolhouse in the backwoods of El Salvador, come here illegally, get legalized, work day and night and have enough saved to buy a modest home in the capital of the United States. I am in awe of them. Envy? Animosity? Solo amor y respeto.

  • It’s just jealousy, Toby. Jealousy breeds animosity. It’s not right at all, it shouldn’t happen, it’s not fair, but it’s there. It’s sad. I was reading a story about an under-30 year old Liberian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a young teen, started working at an IHOP, and now owns her own IHOP franchise. I was thinking, why is it that some American-born young people lack that drive? I just don’t know. It’s sad.

  • Oh, and my above-mentioned Salvadoran immigrants WHO I KNOW PERSONALLY (so don’t anyone say this is a stereotype) could barely speak English. Several taught themselves to read and write in their own language on their own, using what’s called a Silabario in Spanish, an ABC primer, and learned how to sign their names in this country to endorse the backs of their minimum wage paychecks. I could have never learned how to read and write on my own. And they do it with a smile and a belief in God. Don’t get me started, they are an example to me, and I’m an educated American.

  • I dunno why anyone would be stunned that immigrants work hard and get ahead in a nation comprised of about 300 million people decended from immigrants.

  • I am not stunned that they work so hard. I am stunned that these immigrants, as I pointed out previously, who have little or no education in their first language, with minimal English, working low wage jobs and are able to save enough money to buy a house here, plus regularly send money home to support relatives there. My grandparents were immigrants, but were skilled and educated. I grew up hearing how my grandpa learned English reading Shakespeare (I doubt it, but it was a family story). In times where there is so much animosity against immigrants, especially illegal ones, I find it positive to highlight their accomplishments. And some of them are our Petworth neighbors.

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  • As I have never been mugged, I’ve never had an opportunity(!) to implement this plan. That said, I’ve always determined that if i get in a situation where it appears someone is going to mug/jump me my response will be to just act like a completely insane person. I’m talking like Daffy Duck in those old Looney Tunes cartoons crazy. Waving my arms, making as much noise as possible, speaking in tongues, jumping on top of things. Whatever. Just act a complete fool, but you have to be committed to it. I mean, they may still wind up mugging you in the end but I think for the most part said mugger would probably be either too weirded out (or too amused) to seal the deal and would just leave you alone.

    Another (and much more sensible) solution is to walk with your cell phone in hand and start jabbering away. Even if you aren’t talking anyone at all. If you see someone creepin’ on the come up just be like, “hold on, I think these dudes are about to mug me here on the corner of Irving and 12th St.”

    Personally, though, I think the acting crazy solution is the best.

  • I don’t know about the idea of carrying mace or a knife. My mom bought me a keychain jar of pepperspray and is badgering me to carry it, but I won’t because I just think of the stories of people trying to defend themselves with a weapon like that and having it turned on them. I don’t want that.

    The poster en espanol who thinks everyone is tan racista is interesante. The story is strange and I’m glad it could be reported on a blog. Isn’t this medium great? Now I’ll think again before dreaming of those low housing prices in Petworth. These stories make Capitol Hill seem worth the price.

  • Thank you, Christina, for pointing out that men and women often have very different levels of comfort when it comes to personal safety. I’ve had many interesting discussions with my husband about where he would walk at night versus where I would go, and I know I have a much higher level of alertness when it comes to possible danger spots / people than he does. When I lived in Dupont, I’d go blocks out of my way to avoid walking down streets like Corcoran after dark (and if I couldn’t avoid it, I’d walk down the middle of the street, rather than on the sidewalk). I remember walking down a dark and quiet street with my husband in NYC a few years and getting that prickly sense on my neck – I realized there was someone about 15 feet behind us, keeping pace. When we turned a corner, I asked AUA if he’d noticed the man behind us, and he hadn’t — just didn’t even cross his radar. Mind you, he’s a pretty damn smart and savvy guy, but because he’s big and has big ol’ shoulders, he just doesn’t see danger in the same places I do.

  • wow. white man gets harassed and how quickly this becomes about race, the status of immigrants, etc. don’t condone harassment of any kind but minorities and women have been dealing with this for years. as a minority woman I could have a whole blog dedicated to my harassment on a daily basis at all hours of the day for all kinds of illogical reasons on the street, at work, etc. and to mention the safety of neighborhoods in DC in that context is also interesting. how do you compare the choice to gentrifry versus being relegated to unsafe neighborhoods as a result of legal segregation that happened in this country for years? just my opinion.

  • Please forward concerns over late night safety to the DC Police & Councilman Jim Graham. May be possible to get late night patrols beefed up at bar closing times…even if it’s done just for show. Better to see a few police cars with their lights on than folks getting harassed on their walks home. Also, glad to hear original poster is OK. You did what you thought was right & you made it home safe. Sounds good to me.

  • Glad to hear nothing really happened. However, maybe – just maybe – the guy taking a piss asked for his friends to stay in the car until he was done pissing and he was signaling them that he was done at about the same time you were passing him. And maybe – just maybe – the comment was a joke, at your expense of course, said to someone passing by.

  • Congratulations.

    You gave that Latino man and his friends, I’m sure, a nice laugh.

    This, right here… “Holy shit, I’m thinking, White power, what the hell does that mean? Why would anyone say that? And why would a Latino person say that?…So like Carl Lewis in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics I sprint like no mere mortal has sprinted before.”

    …Is why he said it. 🙂

    Reminds of that Eddie Murphy urban legend that’s been going around.

  • You were in panic because a Hispanic person said to you something like “white power”?

    You should be in panic anytime Mr. Bush opens his mouth to says things like: “restore democracy”, “axis of evil” or “fight aginst terrorism”.

    Bush’s statements usually translate in deaths, killings, rapes, bombings and all those horrible things you wrongly thought that Hispanic was going to committ against you.

    Alvaro Sánchez

  • I’ve been contemplating purchasing a property in the Petworth/Columbia Heights area. I know the area well but I currently rent in Northern Virginia. I was raised in an urban environment; however, I completed my undergraduate work in Northeastern PA – very white and I’m an African-American female. I too remember walking home after having a few too many and dealing with blatant racist, verbal harassment – yes, the n word was used and no I did not call for a rally. At any rate, let’s all pray for the day when a minority can live among the majority, regardless of the majority’s economic circumstances in safety. In short, all people want to feel safe in their communities. I’ve never known decent people not to speak out against harassment against another human being whether it be black against white, white against black, latino against whoever. One crucial point: as an adult, I don’t like drunk people urinating on trees OR walking down my streets, even if you were just hanging out in Adams Morgan.

  • DCMovieGirl, I hope I get to see you harassed on the street and so scared for your safety that you go sprinting. Me and my buddies will all have a great laugh, because it’s funny, hah-hah-hah. Right?

  • People saying that Latinos are often victims (very true) and not likely the criminal (very stupid) are ignoring obvious facts. Gangs and just bad people exist in every race and ethnic group. Or maybe the ever growing latin gangs in the area is just one big, racist republican conspiracy. This stuff is not political, it happens no matter who is in office. If I am followed or in a situation that I could shortly be outnumbered and surrounded at 2 AM, even if my own color, I would freak too. No words needed. That’s just survival instinct. People aren’t stopping at mugging anymore. They’ll beat the shit out of you just to do it and never grab for a wallet. Why take chances? You don’t owe anyone the benefit of the doubt in these situations.

  • “DCMovieGirl, I hope I get to see you harassed on the street and so scared for your safety that you go sprinting. ”

    Nice, Anonymous.
    I’m rubber, you’re glue… 😉

  • I agree that he was trying to ease the tension by saying “white power”. If I were a Latino man and a white man came upon me late at night, the first thing I would of thought was that he was going to mug me.

  • He was just being nice and polite when he said “how are you doing man”. Get a life PoP.

  • white power= thanks for slowly pushing us out of the neighborhood, DUDE!

  • I avoid everyone like the plauge past 1am. Especially if it is a group of ethnic/black dudes in the columbia heights, adams morgan sections of dc. This is from experience. The rat in the maze learns to avoid the electric shocks. it’s all i’m sayin’….

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