Dear PoP – Disturbing Incident on the Red Line

Little Red Line
Photo by PoPville flickr user quigley_brown

“Dear PoP,

I want to relate a rather disturbing incident that occurred yesterday evening on the platform at the Union Station Metro. I was waiting for a train when I noticed four teenagers horsing around on the platform. They were pushing and shoving one another, laughing, yelling… generally acting like teenagers. There was a man leaning up against the railing under the escalators also waiting for the train while listening to his iPod. The teens moved closer to him until they were right next to him, two on either side. One of the teens pulled the man’s headphones out of his ears. At first, he thought they were just joking with him and he smiled. Then, another of the teens started pulling on his headphone cord to get his iPod out of his pocket. He pulled back and tried to move away, but the teens surrounded him and continued to try and pull his iPod out of his pocket.

I had been watching this unfold in front of me, and at this point I moved towards the teens and yelled, “hey,” at them. With their attention now on me, the man was able to pull his iPod back and get away from the teens. The four then started to move towards me and one of them said, “hey what?” At this point, another came up behind me and knocked my hat off of my head while another picked it up and ran a few feet away. I said, “what the fuck?” and stood my ground, staring at them.

At this point, the train pulled into the station, and we all got on—me, the iPod man (who mumbled, “thanks,” to me as he passed), and the four kids. I stood in the middle of the car while the teens took seats at the far end. They passed my hat around and laughed, making comments about it and me. I think they expected me to try to get it back, but, instead, I just pulled another hat out of my bag, put it on, and stood smiling at them. I never broke their gaze and they stared back at me. Eventually, they all stood up and walked down the aisle to stand across from me. They continued to stare at me and make comments about the hat, as if daring me to make a move for it. I figured this is what they wanted, so I didn’t say anything.

Finally, when they realized that I wasn’t going to play their game, one of them walked up to me and handed me my hat back. Then they got off at the next station. Now, I was willing to chalk up most of their behavior to just teens being teens. Until they tried to steal the man’s iPod. Here’s the disturbing part, though: not a single person spoke up while all of this was going on. The platform at Union Station was fairly full and I know I wasn’t the only one who saw what they were doing.

And, when we all got on the train, there were plenty of people around to see what was happening. No one said anything to me or to the kids. In fact, I could see some people actively ignoring what was going on. I’m no hero, but I think if I hadn’t said something to those kids, they would have stolen that man’s iPod right there in front of everyone. And, I wonder if I had tried to get my hat back and things had escalated between me and the teens, if anyone would have stepped in to help. All in all, I was pretty disgusted by the whole encounter, both with the behavior of the teenagers and my fellow Metro riders.

What would you have done? Should I expect people to intervene if I’m being robbed and/or harassed in plain sight? Or, is it every man for himself in this city?”

This is a terrible situation that sadly we’ve discussed and heard about far too frequently. I think you have to do with what you are comfortable with doing. Like many things we discuss, one’s action will vary from person to person. I think the best thing to do when possible is to alert an authority, whether a WMATA employee or a member of law enforcement if possible. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the intercoms in each train car. Sadly, one can’t rely on other people to intervene. Some people will for sure, but I’d say they are in the minority. If people don’t intervene directly I’d like to at least think they’d also do what they can to alert the authorities. One also has to be careful in these situations because it is not known whether or not someone has a weapon. What do you guys think are the responsibilities of fellow metro riders in situations like these?

75 Comment

  • I know I personally don’t do anything for fear of being shot or beat to death. I admire what you did though.

  • Yeah, I had a similar experience this summer outside the Columbia Heights Metro. A bunch of urchins, none of them older than about 12, were harassing the workers building the new plaza — knocking over their barrels, scattering sand piles, tearing their webbing, that kind of thing. Lots of people saw. I took my cell phone and made like I was taking their photo and they backed off, only to situate themselves later in the same Metro car with me, harassing me in front of other passengers, calling me rude names just loud enough for me and my immediate neighbors to hear, and giving me the finger. People looked at them and glared, but no one said anything. I got off at my regular stop, they stayed on, and I blew them all a kiss as the train departed.

    I also reported them to the Metro official in the CH station, who moved not one inch. What I did not do that I should have done is to call 911. MPD is very clear that 911 is to be used for *any* crime, so we shouldn’t be afraid to use it whenever we witness something like either of these incidents.

    I never thought about a weapon — they were 12, for God’s sake! — but I know I should have. I don’t really blame people for being afraid, although I’d have appreciated the backup if anyone had wanted to provide any, but I do blame the Metro official for not even picking up a phone or a radio. I wish I’d gotten his name, but I needed to make a train.

    Here in CH there’s a Neighborhood Watch effort under way that includes training on how to minimize the possibility that you’ll be a victim of property crime. If there were some way for all of us to agree on what we should do when we witness this kind of incident, that would be a big help. I’ll pass this link on to the person coordinating Neighborhood Watch to see if they have any protocols they’d like to share.

  • if you don’t set up and help, even just by visibly bearing witness (which intimidates more than you’d think), you’re a worthless piece of shit. Old grandmas have the balls to at least make it known that they’re “watching.” There’s no neutral position. If you ignore what’s happening, you’re giving car-blanche to the ‘thug’.

    If, after the young guys had said “hey, what?”, one of the passive bystanders had said, “”hey” there are cameras and police and all of us watching, is what” They probably would have flexed and sauntered off.

  • How does this happen when Union Station is filled with cops with HUGE MACHINE GUNS AND DOGS!?!?

  • If you’re actually underground in the station it’s probably best to dial 911 first, then follow up by immediately calling Transit Police at 202-962-2121. DC’s call takers and dispatchers aren’t the most competent, and I sure don’t trust them to pass along the location and nature of the incident correctly.

    • Perhaps Metro would be good enough to post the Transit Police number prominently throughout all the stations, then. Not sure it’s in a lot of people’s speed-dials. (Posting the number might in itself be something of a deterrent.)

  • Wow – very disheartening to read this.

    What should other people have done? REACT! Say “I’m calling the police” Step up and take pictures with your cell phone. Do something other than ignore what is happening.

    Why did these kids think they could get away with this behavior? Previous experience no doubt when they harassed/threatened/intimidated/robbed someone and witnesses turned away.

  • The guy who was getting his ipod stolen should have been fighting his own battle.

    • Four on one, no matter who you are, is almost always a lost battle.

      This guy rightfully stepped up and helped him before the guy even had to fully step up.

  • I think the person who wrote in about their experience answered their own question — in this situation they were the ones who intervened to prevent the guy from being robbed. I’m not sure I would have done the same thing (I’m a wimp, and girly girl who’e not about to take on a group of kids who appear to be bad news). But I’m grateful that people like this person who said something are around the city, and I’d like to think that the other people on the train were only pretending to ignore the situation and would have backed the guy up if the kids had become physically threatening.

  • At the very least someone should have gone and gotten help. This city (every city) will only get worse and worse unless people step up to help each other.

  • I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the little thugs were black and the author and iPod guy were white. The reality is that there are a lot of white people who are afraid of black kids. You should have punched the shit out of the kid who took your hat.

    • Yep. Four on one is terrible odds, but if there is another person or two nearby to break it up if you get mobbed, then yeah, knock that racist notion out of his head. White fear of black kids has the effect of becoming self-fulfilling prophesy.

      People who use violence usually do so because they feel weak. Don’t casually reenforce that ruinous notion that violence = power.

      • I agree. I also think that anyone who lives in DC and doesn’t have the ability to defend themselves from this sort of thing is being tremendously foolish. Anyone who invades your personal space or lays a hand on you deserves to have something broken as a result. The roving bands of teenage boys prey on people who look like they are helpless. I guarantee that if one of them had gotten punched in the face they would think twice about pulling the same shit again.

  • Juveniles do stuff like this because a.) they know bystanders will rarely intervene (excepting this case–good on you); and b.) if they are ever caught pulling this crap, they’ll never be punished.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A juvenile basically has to murder someone to be punished at all in this city. You can thank Phil Mendelsohn for that.

  • My new approach is to stare them in the eye as I am calling Metro police. Describe everything they are wearing, and then follow them when they get off the train. Make them know we’re watching.

    By the way, I’m a short white girl. But I’ve got a good glare.

  • If you find yourself a victim or potential victim of a crime the research indicates that you are best off to single someone out. Saying “help” in a general manner is less successful than making eye contact and saying “i need *you* to call the police immediately”. Few people will fail to do so in the second scenario but in the first, diffusion of responsibility tends to be operative.

    Seems like the iPod guy would have done well to look at one of the kids and say “back off” firmly.

    Good on you for intervening!

    • Yes, I agree. Pointing to a person and saying “I need you to call 911” is more effective than saying “someone please call 911.” Even if that person doesn’t call 911, someone standing nearby will.

      Saying “Stop it” with sufficient gravitas can be very effective.

  • “People who use violence usually do so because they feel weak. Don’t casually reenforce that ruinous notion that violence = power.”

    You’ve been watching too many sitcoms. People who use violence use it because they know they are stronger than their opponent and they can use violence to take whatever they please.

    • I’m talking about teenagers who want to flex on regular people, b/c they get rolled i their own neighborhoods (like the linked article.)

      People who are fooled into being afraid of kids who are fronting, just reenforce their misconception that “violence” will make them feel more secure. I’m talking about context — not theft for material want, or self-defense… young kids fucking with people for pleasure (i.e. taunting the guy with the hat, or clocking the girl at the bus stop b/c he was all sour grapes after getting his ass beat elsewhere.)

      • If these kids wanted that ipod alone, they’d have yanked it and ran (maybe clocked the guy.) They wouldn’t have gotten into a train with him, and taunted a guy who wounded their pride. It was teenage shit.. sport.

        Most people use violence because they think they need to, but let’s be honest, teenagers use it because its a thrill and empowering.

  • About 2 weeks ago, the local new channel ran a story about students from
    Gonzaga High School who where being victimized by teens on the metro.
    They were stealing IPhones & IPods. Sounds like the same punks. Why
    weren’t the transit police patrolling that station? I admire citizens who stand
    up to the punks, but I fear that many of these teens carry an accessory like a
    GUN. Thanks for the phone number of the transit police. I will key it in to my
    phone–hopefully I will be at a station with cell service.

  • The Metro’s Cops are all apologists for teen crime; they won’t do crap if you call 911. DC Cops don’t generally respond to Metro problems.

    You can also thank Ward 8’s representative and Mr Graham for allowing the DC Metro to degenerate from one of the few subway’s in the world that was considered relatively safe, into one that people are now genuinely afraid to travel on at certain stops and certain lines.

  • First off, the person that wrote the letter was courageous. That’s great and we need more people like you. However, if I’m in that situation, I’m not doing anything. It’s just like the bike stealing incident in Columbia Heights a few months ago. I’m not getting beat up or robbed or worse for a perfect stranger’s iPod. Who knows what those kids are carrying?

    And I find it humorous that so many people on this blog denigrate others for not doing/saying something. Look back at the comments above- maybe 50% or more said they would have done something. It’s amazing that such a high percentage of people on this blog (who are anonymous and not there) say they would do something yet all of these stories involve a very low percentage (1 out a few hundred) of people doing something. I guess the commenters on this blog are the most upstanding holier than thou citizens in DC or they are all full of shit.

  • If you witness something you should be able to contact the metro authorities without being courageous or a hero. Actually confronting the kids is one thing, but there are other ways to be of assistance to a fellow rider. What the metro authorities will do is another matter – they have taken heat for overreacting in the past (see French fry arrest) – but it’s better than nothing.

  • It is sad that this happened. I don’t know who was white or who was black, but my husband is over 6 feet tall and black – and I am scared every time he goes on the metro with those earphones on and his laptop bag. I am a short black woman, and he doesn’t want me to ride the metro or bus unless I absolutely have to or I insist.

    People who think that it is only white people afraid of black people – really don’t know any black people (other than the mysterious “black friends” they all swear they have when they say something stupid in racially mixed company, or do some embarrassing “homeboy” move/dance at the office). I am not afraid of anyone. I am aware that there are “have nots”, and I am not one of them. As long as you are a “have” you are a target. You have to protect yourself, not what you “have”. So fighting is stupid. Give up the little ipod, and save your life. Encourage the person you see getting something stolen, that they should just let it go – that is the best thing you can do to protect them.

    And all black kids are not dangerous, just like all white kids aren’t self centered pricks with serial killers for fathers and pill popping alcoholics for mothers. All black babies aren’t crack babies, and all black mothers aren’t baby mommas. All hispanic people are not illegal, and all asian people aren’t geniuses. People are people – and no matter what their races, we have to watch out for each other and ourselves.

    • But all women are beautiful 🙂

    • i love your last paragraph 🙂

      It’s sad that you (or your husband) don’t feel safe riding the metro or bus – personally I enjoy riding the bus to work; 90% of the people I encounter are very friendly, the rest just keep to themselves. Maybe I just live on a good line.

    • “You have to protect yourself, not what you ‘have’. So fighting is stupid. Give up the little ipod, and save your life.”

      I missed the part where the kids were threatening his life. This wasn’t some mugging in a dark alley. It’s obvious these cowards thought they had an easy target and decided four-on-one was good odds for fucking with someone. If you don’t immediately push back on these bastards, they take it as a sign of weakness and push it further. I’m not saying you have to kick their ass but you do need to start talking very loudly and get on the phone with the cops. You have every right to. Don’t let a victim talk you into being one, too.

  • It was nice of them to give him his hat back.

  • My boyfriend and I bought mase a few months back after not feeling safe enough to walk around our Bloomingdale neighborhood late at night. I’ve always felt safe on the Metro, but it seems as if I might have to start carrying the stuff with me everywhere. Clearly we cannot plan on having anyone aid us if we are in dire straights. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

    • Kalorini

      Hey Andrea – I have mace as well, but be careful where you bring it! Owning mace in DC is illegal if not registered, and most online stores won’t ship to Maryland or Virginia because of DC’s laws. Also, don’t take it in the Smithsonian–they’ll take it from you!!

      • Mace only needs to be registered if purchased from a retailer in DC. You can buy it at most gun shops, surplus stores and small hardware stores in the suburbs. I’ve never had a problem getting it shipped from online sellers even to DC addresses – since it’s not illegal. But yes, if you enter federal buildings on a regular basis it can be a hassle since many prohibit it.

        • Kalorini

          I had trouble back in 2008 when trying to purchase it online. Many stores had policies not to ship to the DC-VA-MD area, so my Dad bought it for me in NJ and shipped it down (shh!)

        • DC Police listserve in my hood said differently….said it’s treated the same way as a handgun. Also pepper spray is different than MACE and is treated as such. MACE I think is illegal.

          • Well, the MPD Officer on your listserv is WRONG. Pepper spray and Mace are legal to purchase, posses and use in self defense. § 7-2502.12 lists the chemical compounds permissible in such sprays and both mace [CN] and pepper spray [OC] are expressly permitted. Again, the registration is only required if you purchase it in DC and it’s the retailer’s responsibility to forward the forms to MPD.

            Here’s DC Code:

            § 7-2502.13. Possession of self-defense sprays.

            (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 7-2501.01(7)(C), a person 18 years of age or older may possess and use a self-defense spray in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person’s property only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life.

            (b) No person shall possess a self-defense spray which is of a type other than that specified in §§ 7-2502.12 to 7-2502.14.

            § 7-2502.14. Registration of self-defense sprays.

            (a) A person 18 years of age or older must register the self-defense spray at the time of purchase by completing a standard registration form.

            (b) The vendor must forward the registration form to the Metropolitan Police Department.

  • I love all this good advice. The angry guy in me wants to say “punch these kids in the forehead”, but as has been said, 4 against one is pretty bad odds.
    So, it seems like one should:
    – call 911 (this may ultimately result in no action from the authorities, but it may cause the thuggies to back down)
    – take pictures/video with your camera
    – stand tough and don’t back down (but be wise about actual physical action)
    – keep your cool and don’t be a punk. You might actually get your hat back when they see you’re not to be trifled with.
    I think the author of the post did the best thing all the way around. Good on you!

  • Emmaleigh504

    Wow. I’m pretty impressed with the writer’s ability to prevent the stranger’s ipod from getting stolen and keeping the situation from escalating into violence.

    I’m one of the witness people. It may not look like I’m watching and listening, but I am.

  • @Andrea

    Mace?! In an undergroung Metro station or train? I get that you’re primarily carrying it for the walk to and from the station, but you shouldn’t even think about using it in an enclosed area with other bystanders around. That’s really foolish to even consider.

    You think this is bad, look at this from NYC Subway — on X-mas day no less!

  • I feel like I live in A Clockwork Orange.

  • FYI- There is a low-scale clothing store located at 14th and U across the street from the Reeves Center that sells pepper spray. I believe it is owned by a Palestinian guy. Funny thing is that the parents of these wild teens probably shop there. I bought some for an ex-girlfriend of mine long ago.

  • One of the things that makes me want to leave the city. If i beat up a kid who is trying to rob me, Im going to jail. If kids rob me and beat me, they’re not going to jail.
    No one is allowed to carry a weapon, sure its legal but effectively banned because its impossible to get.
    How many cops see this all the time and do nothing. too many, they re worthless in this city. How many stories do we have to read about people getting jumped and mugged where the cops tell the victim they shouldnt live here?
    Why does this city empower criminals? Why does dc coddle thugs, under the guise of non-racism, disadvantage or poverty.

  • remember: if kids jump and mug you, you shouldnt live here (thats what the worthless dc police say to often). The kids arent going to jail.
    but if you beat up a couple of kids, your going to jail.

    The way this city coddles crinimals is ridiculous. The same morons who kids are comitting crimes are the same morons who hold the tv vigil when their kids get shot.

  • Calling the police in this situation is totally useless. These twerps would have been back on the street within hours.

    Stand up and be a citizen.

    Direct action is all these knuckleheads understand in a situation like this and the occasional square meeting their tactics directly with equal force would make them re-evaluate their conception of a completely cowed population.

    Instead, we have this malignant “PC” acceptance of ANY criminal behavior (including murder) and ANY public display of dysfunction. Saying “no” once in a while would do a world of good for them and for the rest of us.

    Perhaps you prefer to be molested and abused rather than face the truth. Perhaps you want to live in a city where this behavior is never corrected until the perpetrators end up in jail or on a slab. You might think pretending these boys don’t exist is a solution, but I think you’re an idiot.

    People who do nothing are COMPLICIT in this behavior – but not all of us are programmed to silent victims.

    I applaud the man who wrote this.

  • “Instead, we have this malignant “PC” acceptance of ANY criminal behavior (including murder) and ANY public display of dysfunction.”

    That’s crap. Kitty Genovese was brutally and loudly stabbed to death in NYC in 1964 over a period of a half-hour heard by several dozen people, none of whom took any action at all. This was well before the days of “PC” – and the reaction is not at all unusual. Do a Google or Wikipedia search for “bystander effect” – it is a well known social phsycological phenomenon in spite of your ludicrous attempts to make it political.

  • I would have done the same thing in this guy’s situation. Yeah, it takes balls, but really, that’s ALL it takes. You don’t need follow-through if you have guts to begin with. Living abroad for years in a tough city, I learned to act tougher than I really am. If you fake it long enough, you start to believe it, and then the bad guys start to believe it too.

    Punks respond to fear with more intimidation, and they respond to acquiescence with more audacity. I want the writer and readers of this blog to know that if this situation happened in my presence, I, for one, would have their back. If you get two or three people to take a stand, it creates a ripple effect, and the threat quickly becomes defused.

    Come on, people, show a little backbone and stand up for what is right! These kids are banking on the fact that nobody will do anything…but it takes so little to put them in their place.

  • What can we do to change the law that prevents adults from defending themselves from these teen terrorists? I do not believe in violence, but I sure want to be able to fight back without fear of going to jail for it.

  • I think if the station was not full and the person who wrote this letter was there witnessing the same situation, s/he would have never said anything. The only reason s/he has is because there were a ton of other people around, after all, you are less likely to get shot/stabbed/beaten up if there are a lot of witnesses, right?

  • it always strikes me as bizarre that people think things like
    …now i have to start carrying mace everywhere…
    or …we need to do something before this gets worse…
    or. … i can’t believe this happened. you came to dc ill prepared for this city.

    people, yes this shit happens and people need to stand up for themselves and especially for others.
    but the city is getting better and better every single day! you were just in a state of ignorance or denial if you think things like this are just starting to happen!

    heres the thing, always be alert! always be ready for something to happen, and always be ready to help someone.


    all please for the love of god, call the cops when things go down. if you think, “should i call the cops or not”, then answer is YES. and yes, your neighborhood is sketchy. still.

    also, the dude that wrote in to PoP is the kind of person we need more of. thanks guy. you made dc just that much better.

  • hohandy: Are you under the impression that Kitty didn’t fight back? Nice try. Even iPod Man sounds like he was resisting some before he was saved by Hat Boy.

    The fact is that the “professional” class in this town is cowed into believing that calling bullshit on any social dysfunction publically displayed by the underclass merits no response for fear of being called a bigot. That’s a very different thing from psychological reasons as to why a third party does or doesn’t jump in to take a potential beating.

    Perhaps you feel allowing rampant criminality is a fair compromise for the guilt you feel over being privileged. I have no such guilt and if anyone tries to take my iPod they are going to get punched in the throat.

    At a minimum I think everyone should resist and speak out as the Hat Boy did.

  • I have heard that studies (in NYC I believe) show that when one person steps into help, dozens follow. Something to do with our nature.

  • similar thing happened to me. i guess it’s their MO to pin people between them/surround in groups.

    for me it was two teenage girls (i’m a woman) at the chinatown metro stop. i didn’t have the headphones/ipod on though, i was just waiting for a train and two girls pinned me between them and started sticking their hands in my bags that i was carrying. this caught me off guard and i tried to at jump move away from them/get help from people nearby. nobody on the platform near me helped or even seemed to notice. i got on the next train and the girls glared in at me, pointing, laughing until the doors closed. i told the station manager at judiciary square and she said “what do you want me to do about it?” i wrote metro an email and got a prompt response to call the transit police next time. i did feel quite violated even though they didn’t take anything from me. it’s hard when you still experience these things even when you are not distracted by ipod/are trying to be alert about your surroundings. next time, if there is one, i’m just going to go ape sh!t crazy on them and scream like a crazy person.

  • I wish there were more people like the writer around here who would stick up for strangers.

    I was walking down the left side of the escalator at L’Enfant and passed a man on my right. He screamed that I had bumped him and then shoved me hard in the back, causing me to stumble down the escalator stairs. The escalator was crowded and the people in front of me broke my fall. Lots of people turned to look when he started shouting and witnessed him shoving me, but no one said or did anything.

    The worst part to me is that he had a small boy with him, probably 2 years old. I hate to think about the life lessons that baby is learning about how to treat women and strangers.

    • “The worst part to me is that he had a small boy with him, probably 2 years old. I hate to think about the life lessons that baby is learning about how to treat women and strangers.”

      These kids grow up seeing older males doing all kinds of lovely stuff like this and you wind up with shit.
      Thanks, Dad!

  • “hohandy: Are you under the impression that Kitty didn’t fight back? Nice try.”

    No dude – and I never said such a thing – nice of you (and typical!) to make a straw man though.

    As your obviously impaired reading skills need help here, I’m merely pointing out that this kind of response (or lack of response) is a fairly common phenomenon – nothing at all to do with “PC” regardless of assinine right wing attempts to link the two with the extremely faulty logic that you appear to have in spades. The issue and discussion here isn’t about the actions of the victim (funny you should try and make it that) – but rather the actions and attitudes of bystanders. Nothing to do with PC – sorry to burst the bubble for you

  • The problem with DC is that there is no sense of community because most people here are not from the area, or have never lived in a city before. In towns with homegrown locals, NYC, NJ or Philly, no one would stand for this shit. Those kids would be on the tracks.

    As a DC native, I’m ashamed to say, DC is “Pussy Town.” I admire the courage of the writer, but those kids need to see the back of a steel hand.

  • 1. – Yes, in crowded public places, everyone ought to confront punks and stop assults. Never mistake generally quiescent modernity for civilization.

    2. But remember that when people aren’t expecting punk assaults etc. it can take 20-30 sec. for bystanders to actually realize that something is going on. That is a long time to the one being assaulted.

    Bystanders are not necessarily ignoring the mayhem, they are just distracted and expecting ordinary life to be going on – it takes a while to assess a situation.

    3. The Kitty Genovese myth of callous neighbors watching an atrocity has been well debunked. It was a complicated event. Look it up.

    From Wikipedia – (lots of other sources as well)

    While Genovese’s neighbors were vilified by the article, “Thirty-Eight onlookers who did nothing” is a misconception. The article begins:

    “For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.”

    The lead is dramatic but factually inaccurate. None of the witnesses observed the attacks in their entirety. Because of the layout of the complex and the fact that the attacks took place in different locations, no witness saw the entire sequence of events. Most only heard portions of the incident without realizing its seriousness, a few saw only small portions of the initial assault, and no witnesses directly saw the final attack and rape in an exterior hallway which resulted in Genovese’s death.[1] Additionally, after the initial attack punctured her lungs (leading to her eventual death from asphyxiation), it is unlikely that she was able to scream at any volume.[12]

  • I would have stepped in and said something. To allow evil things to happen and say nothing is to lead a sorry little life. Stand up and be counted.

  • StubsDC:

    Atta girl! I’ve noticed the teenagers are becoming totally obnoxious on the early evening metro trains. I’m so afraid they’re going to get hurt when they start pushing and shoving each other on the platform. I know this is teen behavior, but we have to step up on this and protect not only our fellow passengers but the teens themselves. There should be at least one plainclothes metro police officer per car from 3 p.m. until maybe 7:30 p.m. to keep these smart alecks in line. In NYC, I was riding a subway car when a drunk got on and punched a young woman in the face for no apparent reason. The other passengers near her got out of their seats and surrounded her so she could sit down and get out of his range. As the drunk lurched off the train at the next stop, a young man, dressed like a colorblind college student, got up, slipped a gun from his pants pocket to his jacket pocket, and followed the guy off the train. He arrested him there, off the train, and I saw him handcuffing the drunk as the train pulled out. Would we had something even remotely as effective as this in DC. A few hours in handcuffs would do lots of those young punks some good.

  • I put the Metro Transit Police number in my cell phone contacts a while ago for exactly this kind of situation.

  • I would have contacted the train operator via the emergency button. Have them stop the train until metro police could meet at the next station. See who gets the last laugh when they go to the clink.

  • It’s honorable what the author did in that situation. Very admirable and the city needs more people like him. 

    I think many people brought up good ideas and in the moment solutions on how to curb the problems and challenges with inner city teen’s behaviors in public.  More police forces, collective effort, being proactive instead of reactive or freezing. 

    At the end of the day i believe those are temporary fixes. And many have expressed how easy the kids go back on the streets and theyll just do it all over again.  

    It’s like pulling weeds from your yard ; if you’re not getting to the root then they’ll just keep growing back. And maybe 50 years from now on prince of (new neighborhood name goes here) blog people will have same discussions and rants because we keep missing the big picture. 

    Obviously the challenges are systemic and the solution is not simple. But we can turn to groups and support those organizations who are teaching inner city youths powerful skills like non violence communication, respect and care for others.

      whether you know it or not we are part of the problem ; and the solution.    


    • “support those organizations who are teaching inner city youths powerful skills like non violence communication”

      Here’s a novel idea! How about the parents teaching the kids these “powerful” skills and disciplining them?

      And no, I am not part of the problem when your kid robs me.

  • If you want pepper spray, go here:

    They ship to the district, and it’s fully legal. And it will fsck up any punk ass kid who assaults you.

  • I have found that a nice, high-quality fully charged stun gun does a lovely job in reminding unpleasant children to behave. I’m personally a fan of the Talon line and the Muscle Man products. They’re small, easy to carry, and super simple to use. Even though it only promises one good jolt, I got three solid, debilitating stuns out of my MM-400K model when I was threatened by a gang of children in West Philadelphia last summer. For $50, it was well worth the money.

    I’m under the impression stun guns are illegal in DC. Oh well. I’d much rather defend my use of a non-lethal weapon to a jury of my peers and accept whatever monetary fine I inevitably end up with than end up dead because I let myself get stabbed or shot in the head by some punk. I’ve had stun guns since I was in college, and only used one the one time. The rest of the time, I found simply pulling it out of my pocket was more than enough to get whomever was misbehaving to quickly fall right back in line 🙂

  • this is crowd psychology. you have to single people out. just give everyone names and call them out and start yelling orders at people, and make broad accusations. people respond to leadership. example – red shirt guy, start pushing the guy with the blue shirt, he’s a thief. so just identify the toublemakers, and then identify people to bully them. you don’t even need to do anything yourself except shout orders.

    as soon as you start giving people names and marching orders you’ve upset the entire previous crowd psychology that those stupid kids were operating under. now they are operating under the new heiarchy that you just created, which means you get to decide what happens to them.

  • I’ve intervened in two Metro assaults, one of which was a woman getting beaten and the other where a man pulled a knife on two teens.

    I also will speak directly to kids who are getting too rowdy on the train. They’re used to folks having no expectations of them. Somebody has to show them differently.

  • I always thought there should be more law enforcement and security people at Union Station (metro) as it is a large commuter hub. I’ve run into everything from homeless people come down from the main Union Station to the Metro station harassing everyone, to one incident where this guy was yelling at me for no reason, I did go up and tell the station master. Also in this age of terrorism etc, I figure Metro Police would deploy some full time guys at Union Station metro.

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