Dear PoP – Beyond Sick Behavior Edition

IMG_3468, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“I’m new to Petworth, enjoying the neighborhood for the most part, nice renovated house, close to metro, liking Domku and Looking Glass, need to check out some more stuff.

Last night (Friday), however, I witnessed an unfortunate sight right outside of Petworth Metro. After a drink at Looking Glass I was walking a friend to metro when we saw a man wearing a black balaclava without any openings for eyes or mouth, he was beating up another man, who had fallen to the ground and was being kicked in the head. The victim eventually got up and ran off. What was troubling was it seemed like the assailants friends were watching and laughing during the ordeal and taking cell phone pictures. The assailant threatened us, so we scattered and walking away I turned to see him kicking another man on the ground in the street.

The whole thing seemed like an activity for this group of people, their friend wearing a mask would pick fights with people that walked by and his friends would take cell phone pictures.

My question is is this anything you have heard of? Is this something that happens in Petworth? I seem to recall a trend like this in the UK a while back, where kids would just randomly assail people and capture it on cell phone video.

Any insight would be great. I called the police as I walked home. an unfortunate end to an otherwise great night out in Petworth.”

Good lord, I thankfully have never seen nor heard of anything like this before in Petworth or anywhere else in DC. This is some very sick behavior. Regular robberies are bad enough but to do it just for the thrill of it – is beyond disturbing. I hope you gave the police as proper a description as possible, particularly of the friends taking pictures as that could probably help with an investigation/conviction.

Has anyone else seen or heard of anything like this happening before?

35 Comment

  • Yes, this is not really uncommon- in UK rap and reggae culture this is called “Happy Slapping.”

  • There are ALWAYS sketchy people – mostly young thugs – hanging out at the Petworth Metro. The police used to have a cruiser posted there, but I have not seen police near the Petworth Metro area in a very long time. This was a very disturbing event, that I hope results in more (or any) police presence. I also hope this post makes it to the MPD listserv. WHERE ARE THE POLICE?!

  • In general, I’ve seen a trend over the last five years where crime is increasingly “random” and viscous. Another example is the rash of “initiation” killings this summer and fall. There’s a new generation of street thugs that are 2-3 generations removed from anything we would call normal family life or behavior. The numbers of crimes may be going down (slightly) but the terror factor is definitely way up.

  • Hmm, I’ve never seen anything like this. There are always guys hanging out at the metro, true, but I’ve never seen them bothering anyone. Somehow I think this isn’t the usual crowd. I think it’s very unusual to hear about something like this happening at the metro. So did anyone call the police??

  • “happy slapping” is when teens in the UK would “SLAP” a stranger. it has nothing to do with rap or reggae culture. where did you pull that out of?

    this is not even “happy slapping” this was “beating people down for fun”

  • This may be as a result of mental illness, the effects of alcoholism is obvious however I am reluctant to single out small groups to in order to avoid profiling others based on race.

  • Living very near to the GA Ave. Metro, I have also seen groups of young people/teenagers hanging out outside of the station. Usually, however, they are just fooling around with one another, flirting with girls that come up the escalator, etc. I think the behavior described in the post is very much an exception, as opposed to the norm. Whenever I am walking past a group of teenagers, I make a point of looking them in the eye and saying, “hello” or “howsitgoing.” Invariably, they are very polite and return my greeting. I know living in the city does require eyes in the back of your head and a certain degree of “street smarts,” but don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the many wonderful things–and people–urban life offers.

  • run. if they catch you, stab them with your knife. then run.

  • I’m troubled to once again see another post about crime without any reference to calling the police. Were they called? What was their response?

  • “I’m troubled to once again see another post about crime without any reference to calling the police”

    “I called the police as I walked home. an unfortunate end to an otherwise great night out in Petworth.”

  • Speaking of neighborhood problems, why is the Safeway on Georgia Ave. so incredibly bad? And why does no one demand that it be improved?

  • NWYE, watch any video of happy slapping on youtube. Happy Slaps are beatdowns now.

  • The camera-phone videos are probably posted on youtube or myspace already. This kind of thing happens in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights near the Metro on the weekends every now and then.

    What doesn’t really help the situation is that you “called the police as I walked home”.

    MPD needs you to identify the attackers, and if you just leave, chances are the cops show up and the kids either walk off or just pretend they aren’t the attackers.

    Oh well, they’ll probably be back again next weekend doing the same thing.

    I’m not trying to single the writer out in particular here, just that the police can’t be everywhere. Being a decent citizen in this situation involves calling 911, giving a good description of the attackers, giving the 911 call-taker your callback number, and speaking with the officers when they’re on-scene.

    Welcome to Petworth – there are some dirtbags here, but a lot of good people also. Howabout helping out your neighbors and the police to get these guys off the street next time?

  • True the police can’t be everywhere, but they can certainly be posted at one of the crime hotspots – namely the Petworth Metro!

  • Friday: I’m so glad that the same night kids were beating up random people outside the GA/Petworth metro station I was getting busted (and fined fifty bones) for accidentally “jumping the gate” (card didn’t register at Gallery Place, and I drunkenly didn’t notice).

  • “…we saw a man wearing a black balaclava without any openings for eyes or mouth, he was beating up another man, who had fallen to the ground and was being kicked in the head.”

    Damn, he was beating the crap out of people that he couldn’t even see? That’s like Grandpa Freeman getting his ass kicked by Colonel Stinkmeaner.

  • We have been having trouble with petty drug dealers near 4th & Delafield. Well the police has increased their presence up there? Now the dealers have moved down a block near where I live on 4th & Emerson.

    Unfortunately, there are very few vigilant people on my block. Most are old women or immigrants. More police presence only pushes the problems to someone else’s neighborhood or block in this case.

  • saf

    Anon 9:32

    “Speaking of neighborhood problems, why is the Safeway on Georgia Ave. so incredibly bad?”

    Because they can get away with it, and have been getting away with it for many many years. As long as people continue to shop at Safeway, they have no reason to change. And going to the Safeway up the street doesn’t help – the chain is still making money. Until people stop shopping at Safeway and LET SAFEWAY KNOW why and where you are shopping instead, Safeway has no incentive to change.

    “And why does no one demand that it be improved?”

    Well, there’s this pesky little thing called the free market – as long as they pass their health department inspections, our demands need to be backed up with economic force, or they have no reason to listen to us.

    Seriously, we’ve been trying to change them for years. Thought we had some hope when they showed up at a community meeting talking about redeveloping the place and all the special exceptions they would need, but no, they haven’t followed through on any of the promises made that night either. The fact is, they suck. No way around it, they are a bunch of liars.

    And that’s actually why the prospect of a redeveloped Safeway worries me so much – they’ve been LOUSY neighbors for 20+ years. I am already hearing horror stories about how quickly the BRAND NEW Safeway in Mt Vernon Triangle is going downhill. Do we really want to let them get a huge building that eats that entire block and keep it up as poorly as they keep up everything else?

  • saf

    And on topic here: I live very close to the metro, and have never witnessed such behavior. That’s just awful. What time was it? Did you get any useful response from the cops?

  • @ newhampave, re: “flirting with girls that come up the escalator”

    Yeah, that’s not flirting — that’s called street harassment, and while it certainly doesn’t rank up there with random beatdowns, it’s still a serious quality of life issue for women in DC when you can’t go in or out of a Metro station without being harassed.

  • Typical behavior from DC indignants.

  • I was jumped by a crowd of teenagers at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon on Irving between 13 & 14. Middle of the day, people everywhere. The just kicked my ass and then ran off. Didn’t go for wallet or the bag I was carrying. It’s entertainment for them. They all ran laughing back the the public housing project on Columbia btw 13 & 14. Glad my DC taxes are supplementing their parents’ rent!

  • I think the Safeway is much nicer than it was 4 years ago,

    No one seems to call the cops in Petworth… is a shame

  • I have lived in Petworth/Parkview for about 5 years, so I know the deal- been mugged, physically assaulted, scared, etc.

    However, a few days ago I watched an amazing documentary that helped me put the violence in context a little bit more. I highly recommend this. You can’t get it on netflix b/c its BBC, but you can watch it in segments on youtube, or download it from the internets.

    “Law and Disorder in Philadelphia.”

  • A knife with a blade less than three inches is legal, and one of the few options for (legal) defense in DC. Get one, carry it, and stab away and hope for the best. On a side note, a friend of mine was kicked in the head during a fight about 20 years ago, led to his death after five years in a near vegetative state due to cranial swelling or something like that. Take these things seriously, what’s fun for them is death for you. If nothing else, lets get medieval, make necklaces out of their ears.

  • The Safeway has greatly improved. I actually like shopping there and think the customer service is much better than at the Giant in Columbia Heights. They now always offer to help carry out the groceries, find things in the store, etc.

  • Here is a word to the wise. If an older guy (age>25) approaches you, you stand a good chance of not being harmed if you give him what he wants. If a young gun approaches, you might as well fight back immediately. The young ones shoot or beat your a$$ even if you give them what they want.

    I echo mjbrox complaints. In my block there are only old women and hispanics. Neither will confront the thugs. Most are content barricading themselves behind their door and just hoping for the best. In that light, the thugs encounter blocks where there is little resistance to taking over. It pisses me to no end that there are no fathers, uncles in the block that can stand up to these young thugs.

  • Caro, you’re right. It’s street harassment and it’s aggravating to deal with. When I lived in Petworth a few years back, those guys hanging out at the Metro wouldn’t leave me alone. When I told one of them that I didn’t want to be bothered with him, he threatened to “beat the shit” out of me. Those trifling thugs aren’t flirting, they know they’re worthless and the only way they can feel some semblance of power is by bothering those who are smaller than they are, i.e. us women.

    Hearing “Baby, can I talk to you?” incessantly and being called “bitch” if you don’t want to hear it is far from flirting.

  • “A knife with a blade less than three inches is legal, and one of the few options for (legal) defense in DC. Get one, carry it, and stab away and hope for the best.”

    can anyone find a link or some evidence to support this? The “run, stab, run” idea sounds good to me, but i don’t want to break the law.

  • In terms of people calling (or not calling) the police and the lack of any “cruisers being posted” there (or god-forbid a dc cop actually doing a foot patrol), what about the CCTV at that intersection that the cops are supposed to monitor? There are signs all around the immediate area about the surveillance system and a very obvious camera right at the intersection of Georgia and New Hampshire.

    While it might be hard to use CCTV to cut down on the street harassment, it seems to me a masked man “beating up another man who had fallen to the ground and was being kicked in the head” is the exact type of crime that should have instantly alerted the people who monitor the CCTVs to call in an officer immediately.

    Just another failure in an already broken system?

  • Hi Oregonian, knife law is this one:

    DC ST § 22-4514

    found here:

    now that’s a catchy URL…

    You can generally search the DC Code for keywords of weapons and such, ie ‘mace’ or ‘blackjack’ and try to determine their legality. Its all moot to a certain extent as these laws or only very selectively enforced.

    Re: the CCTV cameras, the liquor store in Takoma that sits right under a camera has been robbed several times since it was installed, and no arrests resulted. So, obviously something ain’t working on those things. If only the speed cameras were as faulty…

  • I lived in Petworth for a year, and I’ve called the police more in that time than in my entire life before this year! Trust me, people call. But the cops can’t be everywhere, and its really hard to know what to do when things like this happen. If security around the metro station is a joke despite its heavy foot traffic, I find it hard to expect something more on slightly deserted neighboring streets.

  • DC knife laws:
    District of Columbia Official Code 2001 – § 22-4514.
    Possession of certain dangerous weapons prohibited; exceptions.

    (a) [no switchblades, machine guns, etc here]

    (b) No person shall within the District of Columbia possess, with intent to use unlawfully against another, an imitation pistol, or a dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto, or knife with a blade longer than 3 inches, or other dangerous weapon.

    Pepper spray/mace is also legal here. It has to be registered if purchased in the city, but you can buy it legally out of state or by mail and not have to register it. That said, with both sprays and knives, a little training is a VERY good idea. They’re not magic talismans to ward off “evil-doers”. If you don’t have the sense of self preservation/willingness to f’ someone up in self defense then you’re probably better off calling 911 and hoping for the best since both these tools could conceivably be used against you unless you play to win.

  • I had a friend that killed a man in g’town. He was getting beaten to a pulp by a guy much larger than him. He slipped a pocketknife out of his pocket and hit the guy once. The guy got up and walked away. Later, the guy died. DC did not charge my buddy with murder as he took a savage ass whipping. But they did charge him with a weapons violation.

  • Dear POP,

    I recently heard about several customers who exited the Georgia Ave Metro on Friday night, Jan 2nd and read the artical on here Jan 4th. and was disturbed at the unprovoked assaults taking place.

    I’d like some information about the suspects that did these unthinkable crimes. Maybe we can help each other and make the Metro and the Petworth area safer for everyone.

    If you can help, please reply on here.

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