Disturbing Incidents on the Met Branch Trail

We just spoke about how great the trail looks back in mid-Sept. A reader writes:

“There’s been a rash of assaults on the newly-opened Met Branch [bike] Trail. I’ve enclosed one message below. [From the Brookland listserv]:

This evening at about 7:50 I was heading South on my bike, going from Brookland to Capitol Hill to visit a friend. I was approaching the section just North of Rhode Island Ave. where there’s a parking lot and shopping plaza. About four black youths (junior-high age) were at the bench along the trail, when one of them (the smallest kid, no more than 4 feet tall) came out with a large plastic drink cup and doused liquid at me, hitting my chest. It was not water. It was bodily fluids. I stopped and got off my bike, and tried to catch the perpetrator but they all dispersed (laughing), and I realized it was futile, so I got back on the bike and continued. I made it to my friend’s house, promptly took a shower and threw away the clothes I had on, and then called 911 to report the crime. The dispatcher said that since I was no longer at the scene, they couldn’t file a report, but that they would send an officer to check out the area.”

And another:

“I was riding my bike home from work on the Metro Branch Trail about 3:45 pm this afternoon (Saturday) when a female member of a group of 6 young teenagers stood up from a bench and pushed me off my bike as I rode by. I slammed into the fence along the trail. She then proceeded to sit back down on the bench as I struggled with my bike. They did not attempt to take anything from me. This happened a few hundred feet from the entrance onto the trail at 8th and Edgewood, right by DC Prep. I rode my bike(which was all bent out of alignment) to the trail head and called police. The police responded quickly and were very helpful, but the kids were gone.

I am bruised and shaken, but basically okay.”

97 Comment

  • Some people carry mace or pepper spray to ward of vicious dogs while on their bikes. I’m sure this would work equally well with juvenile delinquents.

    • If you ever really want to get your ass kicked, and I mean not just like thrown down and kicked a couple of times but really like ruptured internal organs and trouble remembering phone numbers for the rest of your life ass kicked, I could make no stronger recommendation than attempting to use pepper spray against a group of attachers. You will disable one or maybe two of them if you manage to shoot straight (unlikely), and then the rest will give you the beatdown of your life.

      The best defense in these situations where they just want to mess with you but you can almost certainly get away is a camera. When you show up at the police station with something actionable like a photo of the perp you are much more likely to get a response.

      • I doubt a group of young kids who run from you when you chase them is going to give you the beatdown of your life. And once I pepper spray one of them and the others run, I will give that little shit the beatdown of his life.

      • why wouldn’t they beat you up and take the camera?

  • Maybe they can install some surveillance cameras along this stretch of the trail. I live in Eckington, but no where near the trail. There are numerous discussions on the list serv about safety. I think from Brookland to Union station there should be surveillance and call boxes.

  • Thanks for the heads up. From now on I’ll be biking the trail with balloons filled with a mix of my feces and wee wee. Eff with me and find out you little buggers!

  • Ever consider installing a water gun on the handle bars or those spinning blades that charioteers put on their wheels?

  • The young punks in Brookland beat the crap our of our friend’s ex-girlfriend. She awoke in the hospital, after being beaten on her way home. They didn’t steal anything. Some of the kids in this city suck shit!

  • That’s near where a lady friend of mine was assaulted while pulling a stick out of her spokes. Kids ran up, punched her, groped her for a bit and ran off laughing about that “bitch”. Police refused to take a report as she wasn’t visibly injured (dark skin and the punch didn’t show) and she couldn’t ID her attackers. They also implied she shouldn’t be out alone.

    And that’s why 2/3 of DC will suck for at least another 10-20 years, IMHO. Cue the folks who say violence and savagery are normal parts of DC life, here’s hoping you all die young. Then again I personally profit off of corrections companies (CCA!) and diabetes drug makers, so keep on doing your thing.

    • Can police really refuse to take a report. That seems terrible..and shit needs to end. If the police on scene won’t take a report, take their badge number-and report it up the chain.

      • They argued with her long enough about it that she left, she was pretty shook up and it was dark and she still had a few miles to go. They apparently generally thought it was amusing.

      • Yes, the police do it all the time actually. It makes the crime stats lower and, in turn, makes them look better because they’ve “reduced crime”.

        They will tell the victim it’s her fault, or they will imply that she could go to jail if she’s lying, or they will discourage her by saying that she will have to go to the police station for several hours and fill out mountains of paperwork. Most victims, especially the poorest ones, don’t know any better and will go along with what the authorities say.

        If the police can’t dismiss the incident entirely they will encourage/intimidate the victim into reporting it as a less severe crime. Which makes it harder for the police to recognize disturbing trends, such as a serial rapist on the loose in a particular area.

      • I should also add that it’s usually those at the top of the chain who are encouraging the cops to manipulate the crime stats… so reporting it up the chain really doesn’t do much good.

  • Start carrying a gun while biking. Shooting a few of these thugs will improve the city.

  • take a step back “briefly” and imagine a DC where 1% of the people in the neighborhoods where all of “these people” suposedly suck and the newcomers/pioneers/yuppies were actually giving something back to the community other than a coffeshop or wishing that all of “those people” would go away. ever volunteer? ever clean up your alley? ever check up on/amek friends with an older person next door? as far as the kids go: alot of them need guidance and role models. im not saying that has to be YOU/US, but the newcomers often carry themselves as arrogant and rude, which breeds resentment. so treat everyone with respect, and try to say hi to someone when you walk by.

    until/unless you’re a part of the solution, you’re just a part of the problem.

    • Yes, blame the victim, they asked for it. Scuse me as I go rape a short skirted girl.

      (I’ve done all those things, BTW, for years. Mentoring for example is overall useless as long as government is uncaring and and dysfunctional and the local culture is xenophobic, though it may make you feel better and help one person, which is cool of course.)

    • Bullshit. Everyone has the right to walk or bike on that path without being assaulted.

      I guess those kids are just protesting against gentrification.

    • F you. Calling people who have been attacked or those who support the idea that we shouldn’t be attacked is both offensive and ignorant. If you prefer a dirty, violent, uncontrollable city with no coffee shops fine, move to f-ing somalia you troll and stop your preaching.

    • It’s frustrating to see comments like this day in and day out on this blog. Some of us newcomers/pioneers/yuppies do move in and reach out to our neighbors, either through conversations, offers of help or a friendly pie to an elderly neighbor. Yet somehow it’s still our fault for being concerned about crime (petty, violent or otherwise).

      Part of the problem is that as adults we can’t chastise a kid when they are acting like a little punk because we don’t know who or what they are affiliated with. Instead, we are forced to call the police hoping we are in time so at the very least these kids can get a tongue lashing. As it is now there are no consequences and very little deterrents to acting like a fool.

    • do you honestly think any of these punks give a rat’s ass whether you volunteer at the Community Center or bake a pie for your neighbor? They are predators looking for victims. Nothing more nothing less.

    • You’re obviously not a woman. Say hi and be friendly as a white woman and you’re begging to become a crime victim.

      • Funny, as a woman I’ve used that practice for years — through working as a social worker on the south/west sides of Chicago, living next door to a halfway house AND a homeless shelter, and in my current neighborhood. I’ve never had a problem.

        Best advice I ever got: Always make eye contact, always say hello, always walk tall. When you look confident you’re much less of a target.

        • There’s a difference between coming across as tall and confident and coming across as a sweet little white girl (target). Unfortunately, one’s physical features and build have more to do with which category you fall into than anything you can control.

      • saf

        Not my experience.

    • The newcomers/pioneers/yuppies tend to have (comparatively) high incomes and create a more robust tax base for the city. I think that’s a pretty major contribution alone.

    • So WE are the problem? People who work jobs, pay taxes, and follow the law? Yes I do know and speak to my neighbors, pick up trash on the street, and volunteer at numerous places. But I’d be a fool to believe that me doing that is going to make a difference when I ride my bike on a trail.

      I refuse to walk around DC like some bamma from Kansas waving at everyone and smiling.

    • Screw you Truxton Dude: nobody walking or riding their bike minding their own business is part of the “problem”. The problem is kids who feel they are above the law and can take advantage of other people. I was moving into my apartment last year and as I was carrying in some artwork a kid walked by and threw a pitcher of grape juice all over me. I was stunned and pissed off. I put my stuff down and chased the little shit for 5 blocks and caught him after he ran into a local restaurant. Just so happened that his relatives ran the place and they couldn’t believe what had happened. They thanked me for chasing him down and I walked away listening to them dole out a serious repremand.

    • the newcomers often carry themselves as arrogant and rude, which breeds resentment

      From my admittedly limited observations, this is true. The douchier people seem to be more often the victims of crime than the non-douchey people. Getting over your attitude will help you a lot (and if you felt defensive when you read that, it probably means that you could indeed use an attitude check).

      Also, a lot of people commenting don’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between being “nice” and being “respectful yet vigilant”. Respectful vigilance is what you want to aim for.

      • The fact that you have “admittedly limited observations” more or less discredits everything else you say in your comment. Thanks for playing.

    • You’re full of crap. When I was tutoring kids after school there wasn’t single person who wasn’t a “gentrifier”. Of 20+ volunteers every single person had a full time job and jetted home to make a 2h+ tutoring session for SOMEONE ELSE’S KID. They weren’t doing it for gold stars next to their name either.

      You’re just a BS artist, recycling old lines from dried out arguments. Go volunteer yourself, and learn how the world works.

    • Not that you haven’t already taken your beating, TD, but I pile on. Other than these kids, the problem is the people who practice your brand of poorly-reasoned apologetics. You empower them and the people who enable them. It’s society, there are rules. This type of activity doesn’t even come close to a gray area where greater social capital might be part of the solution. You’re really going to tell me you’d think it’s your fault if you came home stinking of kid-piss off your evening bike commute?

  • take a step back “briefly” and imagine a DC where 1% of the people in the neighborhoods where all of “these people” suposedly suck and the newcomers/pioneers/yuppies were actually giving something back to the community other than a coffeshop or wishing that all of “those people” would go away. ever volunteer? ever clean up your alley? ever check up on/make friends with an older person next door? as far as the kids go: alot of them need guidance and role models. im not saying that has to be YOU/US, but the newcomers often carry themselves as arrogant and rude, which breeds resentment. so treat everyone with respect, and try to say hi to someone when you walk by.

    until/unless you’re a part of the solution, you’re just a part of the problem.

    • i dont understand why i have to say hi to everyone. do u know how many people i pass everyday? too many to day hello to all of them. its kinda like country people wave to each other when passing in the car. ya that works for a small place but dc is a large city.

      • +1 Why should I have to do anything for anybody else to avoid being a victim of crime. I’m perfectly respectful and say hi occasionally which is a lot more respect than I get sometimes from people yelling Fuck Off! Maybe those people could benefit from Truxton Dude’s wisdom.

    • I used to live in a transitional neighborhood in DC. The crackheads down the street, who broke into my house and tore everything to shreds, certainly didn’t care that I was friendly to everyone on the block. The nice people that I chatted with everyday just shook their heads when this happened– it wasn’t anything new to them and they certainly knew there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

    • How exactly does one provide “guidance” to a POS that throws urine on a complete stranger?

      You are DELUSIONAL.

  • Kids have been hanging out along this trail since it opened – I used it the day after it opened and there were two groups of kids who stepped into the path just before I rode past them – luckily nothing happened, but I did report it to WABA and MPD – the police department actually contacted me and at first didn’t really know what/where the MBT is – but I was told that they would increase police presence. That was back in May and it looks like that it either hasn’t helped or the police isn’t present.

  • When I bike that trail or anywhere in the city, I carry one of these around with me. Definitely consider it. If nothing else, it scares the kids off before they do anything really stupid.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Fury-31.5-Expandable-Steel-Police-Baton/14245108?findingMethod=rr

  • This reminds of how monkeys will sometimes fling their poo at zoo visitors.

  • DC has come a long way since the 80s and 90s. Yet when it comes to these opportunistic and unprovoked crimes and harassment (which has no way of being placed into crime statistics) DC, unfortunately, is moving in the direction of some citizen having a “Bernie Goetz” type reaction to unchecked, urban thuggery.

    If you all do not know who Bernie Goetz is then I suggest you look it up! Of course, I do not advocate this or any other kind of vigilante justice. Yet, one wonders if this may not be on the horizon. When the police cannot protect its citizenry, and often seem annoyed at having to do their job, is this likely to happen soon?

      • Fuck you trying to say???

      • Aye slim don’t come at me like that, I ain’t the one for dealing with people who talk shit on the computer but won’t put up a picture or won’t say anything in person. I’d doubt you’d say anything to me in person, yep doubt it. You know why? You know why these kids be fuckin with y’all so much? Its because most of you yuppie/transplants/pioneers or whatever the hell you call yourselves look like easy targets. This is a city, and the areas a lot of y’all are now living in are still rougher parts of town, so you can’t walk around or ride you bike with a smile on your face or do anything that makes you look like you sweet for it.

        I’m 21 and used to do a lot of the things these kids are doing now back when I was 14-16. Never got caught but it got old and I was getting older, so I left it alone.

        Not saying this would help 100% of the time, but when you walk or ride past a group of teenagers or a group of people who look intimidating, its best not to look scared or be silent. Nod your head, say whats up, something.

        Also if your gonna carry weapons for self defense, DON’T, use it until they do something or is about to attempt too because these kids might just pull out something that you can’t beat. Plus if your over 18 your not even supposed to touch these kids forreal its against the law too.

        Not saying what the kids are doing is right, but you gotta have street smarts out here, which most of these transplants and suburbanites don’t.

        • why are we targets in the first place? tell us, where does dc thug culture come from?

        • u know who also looks like easy targets? other black people! black on black crime is huge in the city, so dont blame black on white crime b/c we have smiles on our faces.

        • you gonna start poppin’ caps in people’s asses, Euclid?
          Y’know if you had started off with some good advice (you’ve actually given some here, if people can get past all the hate in between) instead of saying “tough shit” to the victim, you might have gotten a better response.

          Unfortunately, you are the complete stereotype of the urban black attitude: everyone you see is “frontin’ you” or “steppin’ to you” or some shit until you decide otherwise. Once you gets yo’ RESPECT (even though you give NONE), it’s all chill. Big surprise crime is integral to the stereotypical black urban culture.

          And by the way, where’s YOUR picture and address?
          I also think it’s hilarious that you point out how it’s illegal to mess with these kids if you’re over 18. In case you haven’t figured it out, these “kids” are thugs and criminals, assaulting innocent people. But you see no problem with that, since you used to do it yourself. I guess we’re all just lucky that you “grew out of it”.

        • Euclid, I think you’re right, don’t look like an easy target, keep your head on a swivel and be prepared if something should happen. It’s unfortunate it has to be like this but many times I am prepared to fight when walking alone if I’m attacked.

          I like your points and I think you could have a lot to contribute to the never ending conversation here about what the problems are, how they can really be prevented from happening, and what to do in the meantime. Unfortunately, everyone is so defensive (the posters who followed and yourself as well) that it is difficult to actually converse unemotionally.

        • I agree that a little acknowledgement is important (nod, whatever), but that wouldn’t effect what’s happening here. These kids are premeditating their bullshit. It’s a pattern of anti social behavior that’ll probably land them in prison down the road. You lucked out, because you could easily be spooning with your cell mate right now.

  • Actually yes, I have regularly cleaned up over 1/2 my damn street, I talk with everyone in front of my house. What else do you want? Why the hell is it my job to “mentor”. Lets not even get into the issue of a white mentor for a bunch of black kids. Smacks of the white man coming in to save the wayward black young. Probably not the best PR.

  • Use this: http://www.sabrered.com/servlet/the-template/SABRECivilianDefensePepperSprays/Page

    I beleive it is legal as they had no problem shipping it to DC. And I have talked to MPD about it and have been told that it is unlikely you’d ever be busted for using it.

    Cheap, strong, hurts like hell, no lasting effects. Aim for the eyes.

    • me

      I have this, and supposedly you’re supposed to let your local precinct know that you have it (almost like you’re registering it). However, I called my precinct, and they said it was fine and that I didn’t have to notify them that I had it. They didn’t really care. Granted, that is pepper spray, which is legal. Mace is illegal.

      Get some, but don’t let it lure you into a false sense of security.

  • The white man made them do it. I am curious if all the liberals on this blog are now questioning their belief that only white folks can be modivated to hate based on skin color. The stories/comments on this blog suggest otherwise.

    • have you ever actually met a person that thinks “only white folks can be modivated to hate based on skin color. ” cuz that one of the more idiotic statements i’ve read on here.

      • I’ve most definitely met black people who think black people by definition cannot be racist.

        • “racist” is a different and very loaded term. did you ask them what their definition of it was?
          racism is about the power structure. not one on one interactions.

  • The great anit-gentrification uprising has begun. I am surprised it didn’t begin sooner, but it’s here. Sad though it may be.

    These sort of incidents are standard in places like Philly and Brooklyn where the original people are even more vocally anti-gentrification.

    • White people were in Philly and Brooklyn (and DC) first. “Gentrification” is as much about when people are moving back as it is about who is moving back.

  • Since the police aren’t willing to make a report, incidents like these won’t reflect in statistics, making these kind of incidents inconsequential. I wonder if the Washington Post might be willing to receive reports like this so that they can make their own tally. Once they realize situations like these are occurring way too frequently, maybe they might publish the information in the paper, forcing the police and the powers that be to take notice. PoP is a good forum for residents, but I don’t think posts like these will get the attention needed to recommend change.

    By the way, I am a proud minority, who grew up in rougher neighborhoods than the ones found in D.C.. I was a bit of a hoodlum myself at one point in my youth. Fortunately, I was able to educate myself and overcome the odds that were against me with regards to leading a good and successful life. As a person who tries to advocate for the less fortunate and give back, I see far too often that it is the newcomers/pioneers/yuppies, what ever you want to call them, that are the ones that are predominantly giving their free time to mentor or volunteer to help “at-risk youth” to overcome those same odds. For the most part, it is not our people stepping up to help these kids. Maybe we can blame that on statistics and certain social issues, but the bottom line is what these kids did was wrong and there is no excuse. Things like this are happening way too often, and has happened for far too long. If it were a Black or Latino person or maybe even an old lady going down that road at that time, most likely they would have gotten the same. We need to make these streets safe for everyone and stop bickering about social issues that don’t help the situation at hand.

    Be a mentor, volunteer, contribute to all the members of your community, but don’t condone bad behavior.

  • Dear Dr. Gridlock,
    Some kids threw cups of piss on me as road my bike on the MTB. Another group of kids beat the snot out of my special lady friend. How would you feel about a special, dedicated lane, HOT lane style, where trail users could proceed unmolested?

  • You ride through the ghetto, you have to be prepared for crap like this.

    Also, since it is now damn near illegal for anyone to punish a child, for any reason, in any way other than sitting down with them and talking out their feelings, kids have become brash beyond their years.

    A while back I was riding my bike through Eastern Market and some kid age (13-14) who was in a group of 4 or 5 other kids, threw a golf ball size rock at me as I ride by, striking me in the face. I was so dazed I fell off my bike, blood streaming down my face.

    I did catch the kid however and slapped him so hard across the face that I am sure he carried my handprint for a day or two.

    That was of course when his equally ghetto parents decided to take an interest and walk up to me and try to berate me for abusing their child…the fact that I had a gash across my face and my nose was bleeding like a firehose because of their “sweet little kid” didn’t seem to matter.

    The police came and cleared it all up. Point is, you go through the ghetto like that area of RI Ave you have to be prepared for it. You also need to start taking a little street justice in hand. Its the only way these ghetto cycle kids get the hint.

    • I would never do something like that, but I can’t condemn your reaction. One day in SE, some kid threw a snowball laced with rocks at me, and I started bleeding down my face. I ran across the street and lectured him, but could tell it didn’t make a damn bit of difference to him what I was saying.

      • and yet you still begin with ‘I would never do something like that’ ? ugh. i hope there is a report next week about some random biker or jogger finding a few of these little assholes with their eyes burned out of their heads after some gentrifier with an actual set of working balls pepper sprays the hell out of them.

  • Teenager presence on the trail has definitely increased since school started back a few weeks ago. They tend to roam the path in the afternoon; I’ve seen them most days of the work week now between 5:30-6 when I’m headed home. Most are benign, but more than once they’ve bothered bikers ahead of me or tried to get in my way. It’s definitely disconcerting to see that things have escalated with some of these encounters.

    I have never seen a cop anywhere on the trail, so the MBT probably strikes these kids as a good place to hang out without hassle and goof off. Being semi-secluded, I’m not surprised there have been incidents.

    • sounds like a good place for bike cops to patrol. if you ride the trail, show up to the monthly PSA meeting for that area. people rarely do, and i’ve found that they’ll take input readily (at least in Ward 4)

  • i don’t know the trail, but my guess is the problem with policing is the officers, who live 2 hours outside the city, actually have to get out of their car to patrol the area. Just a hunch

  • Wish we could require people to get a license before having kids…then we could screen out the a-holes who would raise all the little a-holes like the ones described in this post. This would be a much more affordable option than shipping all the youth criminals off to juvie.

  • Oh man, if it were me, I’d have helped natural selection along with a U-lock-induced skull fracture for the assailant. I can’t imagine my risk of arrest would be any greater than the assailant’s.

  • It sounds like residents need to demand police patrolling- I recall seeing bike cops on the capital crescent trail in the Palisades, so it’s not an unreasonable request by any means. Who knows how to get that accomplished? (Other than voicing concerns at PSA meetings?)

  • There’s a reason I am morally opposed to any type of affordable housing. Isn’t FHA and Fannie/Freddie financing enough already? What are you teaching by giving away homes people would not normally be able to afford?

    All in all, if we improved the public schools (kept Michelle Rhee) I have a hunch it would help solve many of these problems. I know I was far to busy from K-12 to get into any trouble, especially anything like this.

    Of course forcing this demographic of people out of the city to PG county has made the police force look great for the past few years, why give them opportunities to live in the city if they don’t contribute to any good?

    Discuss?

  • My advice? Stay off that stupid brand new trail, it’s not safe! Any woman could tell you that looks like a good place to get assaulted. The fenced in nature of it and the crappy neighborhood it goes through…kids will be kids and they weren’t targeting you, you just happened to be the next sucker that came biking by who looked like someone they could outrun. Were you wearing a stupid looking bike racing outfit by any chance?

  • I agree.

    There should also be no mortgage tax exemption, FHA 3% loans, or subsidized student loans either. If you can’t afford a house or graduate school out of pocket you must be some sort of lazy loser.

    Also, why the hell are women and men who don’t own property allowed to vote?

    Fun fact: The mortgage exemption on federal income tax costs the US Government ~$165 billion in revenue every year. Public housing and rent assistance (the dreaded “Section 8″) yearly totals are less than $23 billion.

    Wanna balance the budget? Stop being a welfare queen and stop taking a mortgage deduction.

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