Friday Question of the Day

From the Post’s DC Wire:

MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski was mugged outside of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Georgetown this morning while waiting for a car to pick her up for her co-host duties with Joe Scarborough on the show, “Morning Joe.”

The assailant demanded $20 but she told him she only had $6. “I was very scared for a short period of time,” she said this morning. She said she was right outside the hotel doors about 4:55 a.m., right under the heat lamp, when the assailant, who had been hiding behind a bush, said: “Give me your money and you won’t get hurt.”

Brzezinski said she couldn’t tell if the assailant had a weapon but his hands were in his pockets.

She gave him what she had, $6.

Now far be it from me to judge someone in a situation like this but I’m curious what others would’ve done in this situation. I think she probably did the right thing by giving what money she had. I’m trying to think what I would’ve done in this situation. I suppose it’s a bit like war and you don’t know how you’d respond unless you are actually in the moment. But I think I’d probably have walked/ran back to the hotel. It seems odd to me that the mugger would ask for $20. Don’t muggers say “give me all your money”? Or steal whatever valuables the victim has? Just seems a bit odd that he would only ask for $20. But like I said, unless in the situation, it has hard to tell just how threatening the situation was. Nevertheless for the Friday Question of the Day I’m curious to know what you would’ve done in this situation? Would you have complied? Walked/ran back to the hotel? Some have blamed the hotel for not providing proper security – do you think the hotel is at any fault?

53 Comment

  • This was no mugging. This was a shakedown by a particularly obnoxious beggar. Correct response: give him nothing, take 2 steps back into the lobby, and have someone call the cops on him for panhandling.

    Rant: it pisses me off when I see someone give a buck to a beggar on the street. It just means they’ll be more numerous and more brazen tomorrow. Food and shelter for the indigent are available for free here; any cash they collect just goes to feed their substance abuse habit.

  • yeah this sounds like a privileged idiot misunderstanding a situation. and by the way the ritz carlton is not in georgetown, its in the west end.

  • No I didn’t think this was a mugging at all. As far as I can tell there was no threat of violence, the guy didn’t flash a gun; it just seemed like “hey you, pretty lady, got $20 for me?” If she said no, I don’t think she would have been harmed.

    CB: There are two Ritz’s in DC, one is in Georgetown (, one is in the West End.

  • Oops, realized eric in ledriot was the commenter who said the Ritz was in the West End. eric in ledriot, see above.

  • I would hope that I would have said something like you better get out of my face, if I didn’t see a weapon. Plus, like Mika (cool name) I never have more than $10 in cash if that. Yes, it was a shake down.

  • I’m with CB – “This was no mugging. This was a shakedown by a particularly obnoxious beggar. Correct response: give him nothing, take 2 steps back into the lobby, and have someone call the cops on him for panhandling.”

    I think I would have just said no.

  • CB, panhandling is not illegal in DC, at all. In fact, Marion Barry is working to keep the Franklin Shelter open as it provides some of the best panhandling turf available. See:

  • for a New Yorker, she sure seems like a pushover.

  • I don’t give money to people asking for it, but I do try to buy a copy of the Street Sense newspaper anytime I have cash on hand. I figure the guys who sell Street Sense are actively trying to do something about their situation in a legitimate way, instead of panhandling. Plus many of the article are written by vendors or homeless so they are given an opportunity to expand their skills.

  • She absolutely did the correct thing! If you aren’t sure if it is a beggar or if someone is threatning you, you give them the money. Maybe the guy got between her and the door? Life is to valuable to act like a hero over $6…

  • not a mugging… she should have kicked a stilleto through his throat then went back to her room to change her shoes.

  • I think I would have just stepped back into the hotel.

    BTW I watched “Morning Joe” this morning and they were certainy having a lot of fun with this incident including blaming it on her assistant who instead of being outside waiting for her was upstairs “looking at his glamour shots.”

    He is very pretty.

  • It is hard to truly know what you would do in these situations. Last weekend, I was using an ATM on Connecticut Ave. Before I knew it, there was a blur on my left side. A woman jumped in front/beside me in order to grab an envelope from the machine for her deposit. Not a mugging, obviously-but I gently upbraided her… My point is that this non-incident happened as anything bad would have…

  • If it was me i would have stabbed her for wasting my time by having only $6 in her pocket when she is staying at the Ritz.

    Oh.. i think you meant what i would do if i was her? I would try not to look like a naive target.

  • There’s this guy who hangs out by the metro entrance and he mugs me every single day I walk by. He’s always telling me to give him some change. That’s what they mean when they say mugging, right?

  • Actually there are two Ritz-Carltons in DC, one in the West End and one in Georgetown. I find it very offensive to blame her. If someone was in the bushes, jumped out and scared you, you would have done the same thing. Ridiculous.

  • Vonstallin

    A Petworth Story:
    Well, Two guys walk up to me and my lil bro with a chrome revolver and said give them everything I got.

    I could tell they were young (about 5’8″ 130lbs) Me 5’10” 200lbs, I put on the meanest face and told them to shot me because I’m not giving up shiit. They turned and ran.

    a few years later 2 guys drove up on my lil bro and his girlfriend did the same thing. He said about the same and they shot him and rolled.

    So you never know to be honest.

    As far as the bum with his hands in his pockets, It might be hard to believe but i would have just went over and beat his ass. Im use to guys with guns showing me guns. And most times A guy pulls a gun on me they shot…no questions.

    It’s stupid, but I have a thing with people trying to take something from me. i dont care what it is.

    Stupid I know.

  • It’s early in the morning. He threatened her with violence. She was alone. She didn’t know what was really going on. She knew she only had $6. Just give the money. Doing anything else would be stupid.

  • Does the West End actually exist? Isn’t it just Foggy Bottom? When did it start being called “West End?”

    Anyway, I’ve never seen this personality, but maybe if she’s tiny and the panhandler is enormous, he wouldn’t need a weapon to be an actual threat. But as I’m not tiny, I’d say what I always say, “Sorry, no cash.”

    Also I would have noticed him in the bushes because I’m aware of my surroundings at all times, particularly in the dark and especially when I’m alone. Also I used to work in GTown, so I’m familiar with most of the beggars and their hangouts.

  • Anon 9:29 you crack me up!! I may be heartless, but Mika’s “mugging” right outside the hotel doors kinda cracks me up too.

  • if they threaten harm and demand money i would say its a mugging. especially if you are a lady. Now if a crackhead comes up to me, a 6’2″ generally pissed off looking man, and asks for 20 bucks. thats just an annoyance. But obviously if it was me in Mikas shoes. and it wouldnt have been because this guy was obviously a coward. I would have beat the ever loving shit out of him.

  • are you guys missing the fact that he jumped from behind a friggin BUSH. and says give me 20 bucks and you WONT GET HURT. this was not a begger you ass hats. seriously. what are you all smoking

  • You know, I don’t want to get into victim blaming either. But I think my startle reflex would have had me jumping back into the hotel if I were indeed right outside the door. I’m not blaming her for what she did, I’m answering the question about what *I* would do. What any of us “should” do in such a situation (give up the money, or run) is not the question.

    I’m also one of those dumb folks who carries a BIG purse, so to actually give someone the money I have on me would involve a big song-and-dance with me digging down through all my spare kleenex and my loose receipts and my paper back book (gotta travel with a book on ya! Never know when you might have a chance to read) and keys and pens and pencils and everything just to get to my wallet. Which likely only has a dollar in it and a handful of change. I can just see it now: “Wait a minute, Mr. Mugger…I know I have money in here somewhere…do you mind holding my collapsible umbrella for a second?”

    By the time I get to my money, I could be not only back inside the lobby, but back in my room and under the covers.

  • Oh, and of course the hotel bears some responsibility and needs better security. This happened on hotel grounds.

  • I’d be with Christina digging in my huge purse with my lunch, gym clothes, bills, etc. while the mugger eventually gets bored and wanders off.

  • quick question cause I still can’t wrap my mind around the thinking here. If the guy had lept from behind the bush and demanded money so she wouldnt be hurt AND had a gun. would it be a mugging then. or would he be a begger who happens to have a gun?

  • Sounds a little overblown to me.

  • I was more amazed at Fenty’s response regarding DCPS and Obama’s girls. This guy is an idiot. Another failed mayor of a large city. He’ll go down with Kilpatrick, Sharpe James and the like.

    To even put on the charade as if Obama would even entertain DCPS when Fenty won’t even send his own kids is the height of hypocrisy. Another example of do as I say and not as I do. Some people are just not capable of running a city. Or anything for that matter. See Fenty’s bungling of a rather routine legal case as proof of that. Even Scarborough (a man of more means than Fenty) that one the air that he sends his kids to DCPS.

  • HUH? How is this not a mugging? someone threatening you by saying “give me your money and you wont be hurt” is the exact definition of a mugging! Give them the money… its a few bucks and it makes a great story for your friends.

  • Wow POP, I’m a little disturbed that you start by saying you’re not one to judge, but then you basically do judge and launch this assault against her. Yes, I’d like to think I’d have told the guy to F*ck off and taken my ass back into the hotel. That said, as a woman, if a guy jumped out at me from behind a bush and said what he did, who the hell knows how I’d react? My life, my body, my safety is worth way more than $6. This thread disturbs the heck out of me.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    CHChic – I hear you. I did say “I think she probably did the right thing by giving what money she had.” I was just curious how other people think they would’ve dealt with the situation. A tough question for sure.

  • Vonstallin

    nate Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Lets not forget about Sharron Pratt Kelly = Fail

    Fenty = About to Fail

    if some one jumps out of a bush and say give me $20… Their was no clear sign of intent to harm.

    But This dude jump out of the Bushes and said give me $20 and you won’t get hurt.
    That is a clear sign of intent to harm.

    He could be butterball naked, no weapon is needed to harm someone.

    Physical Violence

  • Gosh…I’m re-reading PoP’s comments. “I suppose it’s a bit like war and you don’t know how you’d respond unless you are actually in the moment” and “I think she probably did the right thing by giving what money she had” doesn’t exactly sound like he’s “launching an assault,” even if he’s saying that he *thinks* his choice might have been different.

    It sounds like the two of you are saying the same thing, actually.

  • Maybe the Ritz should avoid having person-concealing shrubbery by its front door.

  • Bottom line: you are the only person responsible for your personal safety. This city has more law enforcement and private security officers per-capita than any other city in America. Folks hate hearing this, but if you don’t take steps you feel are appropriate to preserve you life/safety/property or whatever else you hold dear, then you’re really letting others hold all the cards. It’s a nice idea to think about the city, your neighborhood, you home, etc being ‘safe’ but it’s work. Law enforcement plays some role…that ‘thin blue/red line’ that folks talk about preventing society from falling into chaos… but the police have no real responsibility to protect you. The case law establishing this is even based off an incident here in Columbia Heights at 11th & Lamont in ’75.

    This is no excuse not to demand better from public safety professionals, but in the end, it’s on you. Welcome to the big city.

  • Yea. Getting rid of the shrubbery should solve DC’s robbery rate. I can picture it now: all the muggers standing aimlessly in line at the unemployment office reminiscing about the good old days of bountiful shrubbery

  • “Yea. Getting rid of the shrubbery should solve DC’s robbery rate. I can picture it now: all the muggers standing aimlessly in line at the unemployment office reminiscing about the good old days of bountiful shrubbery”

    Come on. You know that I wasn’t suggesting anything like what you’re saying.

  • Rant: I think Fenty has so miserably failed at his job. I voted for the guy. I honestly should have known better considering the crowd he keeps as friends. Ah I let my optimism outweigh my realism. This city needs someone like Williams. To be quite honest, this city needs someone that is not beholden to the people that hold this city back.

    Evans would have been an interesting challenge to Fenty had he run. He could have won the city without many of the wards east of the Park. It is going to be quite interesting how this city evolves politically.
    Also, where is Odentex? I loved going back and forth with that guy…

    Rave: It’s Friday. That’s always a rave.

  • i know. im just having fun at your expense. drinking on the job does that me.

  • Vonstallin

    nate Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    i voted for him also….
    well, maybe something good might happen…maybe……

    Im about to hide behind some Bushes at Anthony Williams new DC house then jump out on him and ask to run again next term.

    Oh and see if he got twenty I could hold.

  • Rave: Vonstallin’s 2:58 entry made me laugh aloud. In that hearty, feel good, in your belly kind of way. Ugh, that was badly needed.

  • Ontarioroader: the majority of those police in DC don’t deal with DC law enforcement. MPD has 3400 officers or something like that, which are broken into three shifts and several hundred man the jail, many are admin positions, etc. Then there are Park Police, who might do some enforcement down on the Mall and on the parks in the posh parts of town, but generally won’t do anything unless they happen to be directly involved. Mint Police, Uniformed Secret Service, Capital Police, Smithsonian Police, Postal Police, and all the others are glorified (and well paid) security guards. Occasionally the shoot homeless and threaten DC citizens when we get in the way of motorcades, but that’s about it.

    Sorry, that factoid always bugs me. We have a relatively small police force, in my opinion.

  • Nate: I’m still around… been busy takin’ instructions from my bosses and Lil’ Gal.

    This woman wasn’t mugged. She’s the sort of person that crosses the street when she sees a black feller a-comin’.

  • I wish I was black and could just ask for money 🙂 Oh wait, us white folks all get trust funds at birth, and congressional seats, so we don’t need it…

  • Uh, Pennywise? There are white panhandlers and muggers too. Maybe you don’t see too many of them in DC, but you definitely find them in other cities.

  • Maybe we should just discuss mathematical formulas here, or other purely logical things. Humor so rarely seems to work…


  • Pennywise: Even if you just count MPD, we still have more officers per capita than any other city. NYC has one officer for every 219 people, DC has one for every 155. That’s going by 2007 estimated US Census Bureau numbers and each department’s claimed number of sworn officers.

  • Not sure you can compare NYC and DC directly, but yes I am sure your numbers are fine, and I have no idea how to quickly figure out if we’ve got the most officers per capita. As long as you don’t say the fed officers do anything in DC I am happy, they view us as colonial tools at best.

    Wonder what the relative per capita murder rates are…

  • Homicide rates, comparing DC to 11 other cities from ’85 – ’05:

    We’re now #3…quite an improvement over the #1 spot we held for about a decade, especially if you look at the actual rate decrease from ’90.

  • Vonstallin

    ontarioroader Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    YESH !!!

    DC @ # 3
    The only time being number 1 is totaly uncool !!!

  • Whoa, what’s with slamming Fenty? Seems like he’s doing fine to me. You would have preferred what’s-her-name that ran against him?

  • Nice chart, if only it was NFL standings.

    Fenty’s a twit. Or perhaps just horribly overmatched by the conditions of the city.

  • I’m not sure how we can judge this situation as “not being a mugging”. She’s a woman alone at 4:55 am outside. If some guy pushed me to give him money like that I’d do it. And I have done it. Why risk anything?

    I’ve had enough crazy similar things happen to me here in DC through the years and I consider myself pretty street smart. If she feels like she was mugged, then she was. who are we to judge? give me a break. These kind of backlash situations drive me crazy. Rush Limbaugh of all people made fun of her. Why be in his caliber?

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