Dear PoP – Spring is here, is there an uptick in harassement?

Touch of Grey
Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

“Dear PoP,

Yesterday my wife and I decided to enjoy the great weather and went for a jog late in the afternoon. We live just west of Ft. Totten Park and were run/walking up the hill by the cemeteries on Ft Totten Drive when four adolescent youths started yelling at my wife “Shake that ass, Shake that ass, Shake that ass.” My wife, who has continuously been a victim of such taunts became furious and started yelling back and even started after them before I stopped her. After the first encounter we continued into Rock Creek Church Cemetery where they followed us. Fearing for our safety and being somewhat cornered I confronted them. At that time a MDP cruiser pulled up and the two officers attempted to question the youths. At that time they took off running through the cemetery.

Not only was our day ruined, but my wife has had it with this kind of behavior and intimidation and wants to leave the city ASAP.

This and an attempted mugging a month ago has led me to wonder if folks are seeing an uptick in this kind of behavior from kids in the city. It is particularly troubling. Our experience have not been violent, but they have been terrifying and have me worried that they eventually will.”

I’m very sorry to hear about this terrible behavior. We have previously discussed street harassment here and here. But the reader asks a very specific question – does this behavior increase in the Spring with warm weather? I used to believe that this behavior absolutely increased with the warmer weather but I seem to recall a friend citing some statistics (at least on muggings) to the contrary. Did anyone notice street harassment increase last weekend when the weather was nice?

90 Comment

  • At least they didn’t beat her and leave her for dead, as happened a few times back in 2007/2008. Don’t get me started! As I recall, they even beat a cop and took her radio down near the waterfront right around the same time they killed a 50 yr old white dude!

    What is it with the punk neo-violent skanky dready underwear showing pistol whipping children in this city, and their willingness to taunt white professionals trying to make ends meet, in our nation’s capital?!? Oh right, this is DC….

  • Has anyone noticed an uptick in touchy yuppies outside all over the city since the weather was nice?

    Seriously though.. it’s kids – are you really going to let them get to you? Honestly, you may leave the city but chances are wherever you go, something else will not be right. – There will be jerks with lawnmowers at 7 am, there will be kids on bikes in the middle of the road – etc etc…
    That’s just my two cents. But you did the right thing by getting the police involved and this at least shows these troublemakers this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Hopefully if enough people complain or confront them, they will back of to some other neighborhood.

    • There is a bit of a difference between sexual harassment and inconsiderate lawn mowing. You know what my redneck parents reaction to that sort of thing would be? My father beating the hell out of some arrogant pieces of shit who are so ill raised they were never taught how to treat women. Be grateful that it is yuppies that populate this city.

      • Wow .. so you advocate violence as a response to arrogant VERBAL expression?

        I think you are right when you describe this behavior as redneck, I would call it savage. BTW.. is your father in jail? I would imagine if this is the way he deals with problems he probably is.

        • I think that Jason was simply stating that in some parts of rural America (my hometown included) you simply wouldn’t have a group of teenagers verbally abusing a random couple.

          In Japan, I saw an older person yelling at a child for j-walking. While an extreme, I think it’s perfectly OK to question the actions of another in a generally productive way.

          Side Note: I hope you take a camera with you next time. I never leave home without one now. Not only will I tell the police what the people looked like, I’ll show them.

    • I would take jerks mowing thier lawns at 7:00 am over being harassed and threatened any day.

  • It’s far too early for the usual early summer crazies, but I’m sure they’ll be out in force by late April / early May.

    Thugs like these kids are a year-round phenomenon.

    • Summer is the absolute worst! Especially in Adams Morgan late at night. People just loiter there for hours in crowds and as the bars let out they grope the women that walk by.

  • Tangentially related: do you get the feeling that certain youths go out of their way to spit just as you’re walking past? Or do they just spit constantly? It seems like every time I pass a group of male teens, at least one of them spits as we near each other.

  • I gotta say, all the kids out in the burbs don’t behave like this at all. Oh wait…they totally do – at least the ones in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, and Columbia do. All year round.

    And in my experience, it’s the old insane rednecks who try to kill you with their SUVs that you need to watch out for.

  • Look, I choose to live in the PoP region, and not one of the fancier parts, and I like it for a lot of reasons. But if you’re trying to convince yourself that the punk kids in this city are comparable to the punk kids in Montgomery County, you need to look at the violent crime statistics again and ask yourself if you are putting yourself at risk with a cavalier attitude.

  • It’s sad to say, but you’ve got to get “ghetto” back. I’m glad your wife yelled and chased after them. I’ve seen myself having to behave in ways I never dreamed I ever even could coming from the small town I did. But I’ve stayed safe and felt empowered. I don’t want to be part of the propagation of allowing teenagers to rule the streets. My sister (in a different criminal town in a different state) has had a similar transformation, finding herself acting in ways she never would’ve expected, and she’s been able to have the same neutral experience I have. You have to fight back.

  • No offense but if you are “terrified” about living where you live and worried that an encounter could escalate to violence some day, you really need to get out of dodge ASAP. It doesn’t matter whether things will escalate as the weather gets warmer. It sounds like you can’t deal with them the way they are now.

  • more people are outdoors when it’s warmer

    the interesting thing about the “snowpacaypse” was how silent the city was that week…

  • to answer the question fully:

    when the weather is warmer, more people are outside and women (for the sake of comfort) are wearing less clothing. i imagine the combination would increase the odds for harassment

    i’ve never seen anyone catcall a woman accompanied by a man before in my 15+ years in this town. sounds like they were trying to start a fight…

    • As a woman who’s dealt with her fair share of catcalling, I agree with this statement completely. Catcalling just doesn’t happen when you’re with male company, and if it does, it’s more directed at the male than it is at the woman, and it’s totally about trying to start a fight. It’s kind of like they’re saying, “Yeah, I’m hollering at your lady, what are you going to do about it?”

  • How the heck does an attempted mugging happen?

    “Your money or your life or does another time work better for you?”

    Sounds like those kids were just jerks trying to bother you. Focus less on being angry at them and maybe instead just pity them; it is a less stressful emotion..

    • Attempted muggings happen all the time. Thug pulls gun/knife or just grabs/hits you and says, “give me your money” – (non)victim says, “No, F* you” then walks/runs away and/or pull mace/gun/knife of their own. A majority of them don’t get reported, but it happens all the time. It’s obviously a personal decision, but not everyone rolls over and plays dead.

    • Dude told me to empty my pockets. I happened to not have a thing in my pockets. Lucky for me, unlucky for him.

  • i agree with soul searcher

  • Is she hot?

  • It can snow in March, too.

  • One of the great things about living in WI was that the cold and long winters gave women who were willing to endure the harsh weather extra months of freedom and safety from harrassment and assault (of which I was a victim on the first warm day of spring one year – a gang of white entitled frat boys in a car grabbed me (as was on my bike and pushed me in a really dangerously tight section of road.)

  • You only have to catch one. Catch one and beat them till your arms get tired. I’m so serious. I pay a mortgage here and raise my kids here and I will NOT live in fear, ever. I WILL put my hands on you if threatened. Over the top? Perhaps. But I will have a good time packing a lunch and going Charlie Bronson, Bernard Goetz on a deserving youngster.


    • This type of attitude contributes to the problem. You are making the city worse along with these ignorant fools

      • Actually I don’t think he is. What makes the city worse is the kids not having anyone enforce boundaries including the cops and justice system. Kids without boundaries become adult criminals. The purpose of the justice system is to have a recourse so that people don’t have to resort to vigilantism. When the justice system does not enforce reasonable standards of behavior, vigilantism ensues.

        • so have everyone contribute to verbal chastizing all the time.. that way THEY will be harassed at every turn. WE need to take action as a society. “Beating till your arms are tired” are just the empty words of someone who is actually not willing to take a stand in the first place and has built up frustration.

          • You obviously missed last summer’s beat down of a similar clown on Illinois, between Farragut and Gallatin. I took a fairly satisfying stand that day. Been rather quiet since. If I need to work it out again I will, nothing empty about that at all. You think I wake up looking for young people to knock heads with? I’m a Navy officer with 12 years in, trying to raise a family and live comfortably in Petworth. I just won’t be made to feel uncomfortable in my own home or neighborhood. If I see a problem that affects me or my neighbors I/we confront it. Sadly, there are times when it can lead to physical confrontation. Sure, I am just as capable of being pistol whipped as the next individual, but I try to be smart about my actions.

      • how? eye for an eye right…

  • Move to San Francisco. It’s the safest city in America. Women walk down the middle of the street drunk by themselves at 3am and there’s rarely ever a problem. I’m not sure why America’s most liberal city happens to also be it’s most safe, but it’s ridiculous. The “thugs” in SF wouldn’t last a day in DC.

    • why would you call DC “America’s most liberal city “?

      • I called SF America’s most liberal city. I call DC America’s most self entitled city.

      • He called San Francisco America’s “most liberal city,” (not DC) which is probably true, but it’s not the safest. But it’s certainly near the top, and DC is certainly near the bottom.

    • wow, i have to advise all my single friends to get to SF. who knew the streets were full of drunk chicks in the middle of the street at 3am?

  • I would say cat-calling definately increases when people are outside more and probably irrelevant of how much clothing a woman is wearing (at least in my experience). Being definately weaker than 1 teenage boy much less 4. I go the route of ignoring them. They are clearly looking for some type of reaction and the better the reaction the more bragging rights they have with their friends later.

    Though when a cat-call seems respectful, flattering and harmless I will actually say thank you. Not sure if this helps the situation or not.

    • It’s spelled “definitely.” Just thought you should know.

      • I’ve also seen it spelled “O-B-N-O-X-I-O-U-S” and in some cultures it’s spelled “b-a-c-k o-f-f y-o-u s-e-l-f-r-i-g-h-t-e-o-u-s j-e-r-k, i-t-‘s j-u-s-t a t-y-p-o.”

    • You thank catcallers? Reinforcing that kind of behavior just makes it worse for the rest of us.

      There is no such thing as a respectful catcall.

    • Though when a cat-call seems respectful, flattering and harmless I will actually say thank you.

      Wow. Just….wow.

      • Angela’s right. Sometimes it’s just along the lines of “You look beautiful today” and the appropriate response is “Thank you.” When it’s rude or feels like harassment, the only thing we can do is ignore it and keep walking.

        • Agreed.

          When I was younger I used to get pissy about the slightest cat-call, but it usually only aggravated the situation, and then the cat-caller would inevitably say something really annoying…”C’mon, show me a smile, baby” or something.

          Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ll say “Thanks, DUDE” and keep walking, and they generally leave me alone after that. I’ve found that acknowledging them shuts them up.

  • I can’t believe people are trying to just pass this off as “just kids”.

    • Agreed. They should all get a good tasering at the very least.

      • tasering people for name calling? Are you serious?

        you DO realize that if these kids were white abercrombie model duchebagas that said the exact same thing this same woman would blush and it would make her day. She just has watched too much of “the wire” though.

        • Nope, still a fan of tasering those duchebags. I’m an equal opportunity bastard when it comes to beating good manners into someone. I think we should get some more black grandmothers, (age 60+) I’ve never seen a kid scared more s&*tless then when getting dressed down by a pissed off grandmother.

        • You’re a guy, right?

          Apparently you don’t understand the intimidation factor of a group of men shouting anything at a lone women as she walks down the street. I don’t care who it is; any unruly group of men shouting at me will make me very uncomfortable and shouldn’t be tolerated.

          This behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. It’s not a game. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s a display of power and intimidation.

        • saf

          “you DO realize that if these kids were white abercrombie model duchebagas that said the exact same thing this same woman would blush and it would make her day”

          You cannot really believe that.

          Harassment is harassment, no matter whose mouth the crap is coming from. And no woman ever likes it.

        • No it wouldn’t. I would piss my wife off just as much. Point is White Avercrombie model douchbags, don’t do this, at least not in our experience living anywhere in this area or other cities. What makes it okay in PoPville no matter what the race it?

  • Definately a judgement is needed for all this harassement.

  • What are you supposed to do in these situations? I had a similar thing happen to me on 14th St near U the other day. It was a relatively harmless confrontation where a group of four teenage boys played like they were going to take my suitcase. When I pulled it away and turned back to look at them, one yelled…I’ll kick your ass you faggot. It definitely rattled my boyfriend. I don’t know how much things would escalate if you confronted the guys and calling the cops seems fruitless. At the same time…my dignity 🙂

  • While we’re at it, can someone tell me why DC kids feel compelled to ruin perfectly nice things?

    We spent a lot of time and money this weekend cleaning and replanting the tree box in front of our house on Capitol Hill. It looked great. In the past 24 hours, every time kids walk by they walk right through the box, kicking mulch everywhere and trampling the dirt. Nothing is ever going to grow at this rate.

    I’m really disappointed that these stupid kids feel compelled to muck up the neighborhood. If they would just leave it alone and walk on the sidewalk, in a month or so the whole neighborhood (including them) would get to enjoy some nice flowers.

    Add to that spitting, littering, and catcalling and you have some real jerks spoiling the nice weather and neighborhood for everyone.

  • Anyone here who is trying to pass this off as OK, because kids will be kids; or attempting to create a race debate about the issue of harassment should just quit while they’re ahead.

    This may sound snobbish, but it’s a class thing, not a race thing. Go to South Boston or the East End of London and you will see trashy, white urban kids (what the English would call chavs) doing this exact thing.

    The women there get just as upset (and they should!) And believe me, Anomymous, they do not take this type of harassment as a compliment. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or the type of background you came from, just show some common decency.

    • At the end of the day, allowing it to go unchecked, in any society, is why it flourishes. Now, if you could figure out who the parents are, you might have a chance that they would drop the hammer. But if you can’t ID the parents, you call the cops. And you overstate how dangerous the situation is. The person doesn’t have to get arrested for the behavior to be checked. All the cops have to do is show up and not let it continue and you’ve made your point.

      Allowing kids to be kids, means you have to drop the hammer when the kids are out of line. Otherwise you’re not doing them any favors when it comes to growing up the way we ALL, white or black, expect our kids to behave.

  • You’re racists.

    Kids are kids, let it be.

    I mean, did the wife at least have a donk?

    I guarantee this person who wrote this didn’t even care about harassment that happens to black people every day in DC by the cops, other races, etc.

    …but watch, as soon as their lily white wife gets taunted, they have to post about it.

    CAPTCHA: Double Standard, how fitting.

    • And you’re an enabler of the continued massive failing of your community. Enjoy the results. Kids will be kids my ass.

    • Not all kids get off on being douchebags to strangers when they’re bored. Get off the sidewalk and get a fucking hobby, losers.

    • this is probably the most head-in-the-sand response I have ever heard. Kids will be kids right? SO I am assuming having one of the largest murder rates in the world is also just juveniles acting normal right? The fact that life expectancy for these guys is 23 is just fun right?

      Stop pretending and realize something is seriously wrong with this society.

    • Ugh. Why is it racist to be upset by street harassment? Harassment hurts, no matter who’s doing it. And no, it’s not just black people, most women I know attract a f*king rainbow of leering men everywhere they go. It’s a mean, intimidating way of asserting power, and women should not be labeled as racist for feeling uncomfortable by it.


    • Yeah the kids happened to be black and we happen to be white. What makes it okay for them to threaten us? If that makes me a racist in your opinion, then, oh will. Opinions are like assholes, every one’s got one.

  • I’ve never been anywhere in the US with as much sexual taunting as DC.

    • Uh, NYC is pretty bad, too. I was routinely harassed, followed, called some not so nice names……

    • That’s interesting, because I feel like DC’s taunting is tame. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, with constant harassment (yes, even when I was a child, and yes, even in the supposedly oh-so-safe suburbs). When I got to DC (mid-90s), the cat-calling seemed to subside a little. At the time I thought it was the city, and that DC was a polite little southern town compared to NY. But after living here for a while and comparing notes with other women, and finding that they had the same problems here as I did in the NY area, I started to think that it was my response to the harassment that had changed the outcome (see my response to Angela re: “Thanks DUDE” above).

  • @Jeremy,

    Nowhere in the original post did the victims ever try to excuse or justify police harassment against minorities in this town. But you do not hesitate to excuse sexual harassment and physical intimidation against innocent people. If you truly believe this behaivior is okay, I suppose that’s your right, but by the same token, I could just as easily say “cops will be cops.” Cool?

  • I cannot believe you told the police about this. Your day was ruined? Feared for your safety? Unfortunately, that is pretty standard example for the way children in America talk. I agree that it’s gross but I would agree that your over-reaction is borderline racist. Given the kind of stuff that police see these days- I would bet that when you were done filing your report, they went onto their radios and began making fun of your ridiculous waste of time.

    Move to the suburbs where you can tell somebody’s parents because many children here don’t really have them. Caution my yuppie friend – you may not get as big of an ROI when you sell your home out there.

    • Nowhere in their letter to PoP did they state the race of the kids or the race of themselves. Stop screaming racism- this has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with harassment and intimidation, which is perpetuated in our society because of people like you who feel we should just suck it up and chalk it up to kids being kids. We should be teaching our kids that it’s NOT ok to scream obscenities and catcalls at women- it’s straight up harassment and it will NOT be tolerated.

    • Seems like you are proud of the fact that routine child-neglect results in antisocial thugs running around the street unchecked posing a threat to everyone and murdering themselves in record number.

      How DARE anyone move into a neighborhood and expect to be safe in their own home and on the sidewalk in front of their house. SHAME ON YOU YUPPIES.

  • PoPo should up on thier own. Definitley feared for our safety after they followed us into Rock Creek Church Cemetary. I have never ever heard anyone speak this way to people in all the other places I have lived and worked both in the DC area and beyond.

  • fight back you morons! who gives a shit if the ‘kids’ are 13 or 14? they want to step to grown people and act in a way that they perceive as grown up, demanding respect in the form of fear? then treat them like you would treat a grown up in that situation and beat their asses. all of you thug apologists who want to turn it into a race or class issue, im sure you will agree with me…you want white yuppies to suck it up cause this is dc, not reston, right? well you be ready to have that same complacency when your entitled little brat kid stumbles home with a busted nose and tells you that some white guy punched him for mouthing off.

    • That’s right, just go ahead and beat up a child. No biggie. I mean, it’s not like their fathers are going to come after you, right? Whoever they are.

      • im sure youll change your tune once your ass gets grabbed a few times, or rocks get thrown at yours and your dates heads while walking through columbia heights, or you get mugged by a gang of ‘kids’ in meridian park, or a teenager snatches your iphone at the metro, or….

        children grow up through lessons in life, and there arent many people out there that are actually facilitating these lessons. what exactly would you offer as an alternative to my idea to fight back, given any of the situations that i posed?

  • I’m so tired of white people in this area walking around scared all the time. If someone asks me for my money, I’ll immediately reply by punching them in the side of the face.

  • My wife is from South America. She is very petite, dresses modestly, and gives off an innocent girl-next-door vibe. According to her, black men are normally polite, as in “how are you doing today?” She says, “fine, thank you,” and that’s the end of it.

    The Salvadoran men, however, all 5′3″ of them, can be more agressive, probably because they assume she speaks Spanish. On more than one occasion, she has stopped, looked them up and down like they were a piece of shit, and moved on without saying a word. For her, it’s almost a social class issue….she lets them know that she is out of their league with a single demeaning glare.

  • This kids will be kids thing. and this making jokes about harassment has got to stop.

    Some times it is just kids being bored and acting out. fine. but sometimes its not. Here is an example that happened to myself and a friend. We both run the same well light route every evening after work (on capital hill). Along the route we get cat-called. We both agreed to just ignore it since we’re alone and don’t want to make it worse. One one occasion we were running a little later in the evening (dusk) when a group of guys started cat calling us. Again we ignored. They followed us for a while so we ran quicker to get away from them. A few blocks later they grab my friends wrist and pull her down. No doubt to either mug or attack her. Luckily a group of people saw this and came running to help up. but it could have been a really bad situation.

    Lets stop the jokes and saying this is kids being kids. because its harassment and shouldn’t be tolerated. Because the next guy to make a comment about a women’s ass could be the same guy who attacks her.

  • I’d be more concerned with the creeps that don’t yell anything and just pounce on a jogger. Kind of dumb for them to yell out and give fair warning before attacking. This article isn’t about rape or mugging – it’s about a lack of respect that yuppie phucks feel in a neighborhood that is primarily made up of DC natives.

    You moved here- move back to jersey, california, connecticut or even side step to Gtown if you don’t like it. I’m not supporting the degradation of women but crying to the police about this is an insult to the real problems we have east of 16th st. It’s actually pretty funny. When I’m running and I get called a homo – I appreciate the fact that I was noticed. I’m still in disbelief that this person’s day was ruined over this. I’ve gotten mugged before and I was laughing and drinking beers less than 2 hours later. Really not a big deal.

    • Yet another person proud to associate with “DC Natives” who together contribute to making DC one of the deadliest cities in the world – even compared to disparaged 3rd world nations. I’m a DC native by the way. And you say people moving to the city should respect this? You are saying we should get mugged and just have some beers? How about I EARNED THAT MONEY and these human trashbags should just get a job like everyone else.

  • Well there you have it, folks. There are, in fact, actually people out there who think like We iz bad BOYz 4 Life. What a great way of looking at community – if you don’t like something about it just move, don’t you dare actually try to take actions to improve the community.

  • I hear a lot of opinions and judgements. Has anyone done anything to improve situations like these? Or are you all just putting the weight of this situation on one political individual.

    PS. Deviance will NEVER go away it will occur EVERYWHERE you go.

  • These kids have almost no chance at ‘success’. You do. Therein lies the source of all these problems.

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