I am writing you this email because I feel the need to share an incident that happened to my friends and I, last Friday. On April 27, 2012 my two girlfriends and I decided to go out and have drinks at Pearl Dive which is located at 14th and Q. I took the bus from Burleith where I live and headed to Dupont Circle to meet up with them and walk over together. It was 9:15PM when I met up with my friends. We decided to walk on Q street heading towards 14 street. After we passed 15th and Q, in the middle of the block (right where there is a bike store) we were attacked by two guys. They were nicely dressed and didn’t look like muggers. I was walking one step forward and when I heard the noise behind me, I turned. The first guy had grabbed both of my girlfriends, yelling “give it to me” referring to my friend’s cellphone. Initially, all three of us thought that he was most probably harassing us and not robbing us. The minute I turned and got engaged to the whole incident, a second guy showed up, who started dragging my friend to the ground in order to get her phone. In the meantime, I was fighting with the guy, who saw that I had a purse passed through my chest to the side. The fact, that I resisted really changed his whole behavior. He held me from my scarf and forced me to the ground where he continuously kicked me in order to get my purse. I kept yelling for help, which infuriated him and made him kick my head and face multiple times. To be honest, I wasn’t even physically able to give him my purse because of the level of violence he was forcing upon me. In the end of course, he took my whole purse and they both flew away through an alley.
I am sure that there are numerous events like ours every day in the streets of DC, however I felt that there were a few things that differ in our situation. I need to point out that we were three girls walking all together and I wasn’t by myself. We were walking in a “good” area of DC right between Dupont and Logan Circle, early at night; it was 9:25PM when it happened. We took Q street, which has a lot of restaurants and people were sitting outside that night. Finally, the violence these two men exerted on us was brutal. Unfortunately, even though the whole incident lasted almost a minute which is a long time for this kind of situations, no one came to our rescue. There were some people that saw us from their houses but did not intervene; and a taxi that was on Q saw my third friend in the middle of the street asking for help but he stopped 30 feet away waiting for the incident to end, and then continued its trip. I would never blame the woman that saw us through her window and called the police, why she didn’t come out. I understand the fear and hesitation. However, being in this position now, I feel that as citizens we need to intervene more. When this kind of events happen, open your door, yell police, somehow contribute so the muggers might run away. As for the taxi driver, he could have easily honked but he didn’t even stop to check how we were doing after the two guys had already left. Again, I want to be understanding but at the same time there is a reason these two, had the nerves to attack three women at 9:30PM in a very central area of DC.
The police told us that unfortunately there is an increase in crime lately and thieves target especially women with cellphones. This is exactly what attracted these two men initially. My friend was emailing at that point with her blackberry when the first guy attacked us and demanded her phone.
I live in DC for 4 years now and this has never happened to me before. I always felt very safe, especially in places like Dupont. I just wanted to share this story because I feel my fellow DC residents need to be more alert and prepared. I don’t want to say that I don’t feel safe anymore but definitely my perception of my surroundings has changed. I bought a panic button and the police informed us that a pepper spray is legal in DC as long as you report it to the police station. I don’t use my phone while walking and I am definitely not taking streets that have alleys or are kinda dark. These two guys were definitely waiting at that alley and chose to attack when no one else was at that block.
I hope that you might be able to share our story or talk about this kind of events. I think it is important that DC people are more aware of what is going on around us.