Disturbing Assault on the Metropolitan Branch Trail

From the Brookland listserv:

Last night on my way to Chinatown I got clothe-lined (or something) as I was blazing down the metropolitan branch on my bike. 4 kids, probably 13-19 were on either side of the trail and decked me good before fleeing the scene. The incident was at the intersection with T St., at about 4th. I think they mostly just wanted to cause suffering for fun, rather than steal anything. I also think they were surprised I wasn’t out cold after the crash. In fact, I got one of their shoes.

I talked with the cops afterwards. Advice from me and them to y’all:

*Instinct is good. U turn it if you see folks idling on the trail, looking to pinch you between two or more other people. If it looks really fishy, call the cops.
*Time doesn’t matter. Muggings happen day and night the same.
*Bike/commute in groups. They go after solo riders.
*Call the cops immediately. They had been waiting for these guys and they were scouring the whole area in <5 minutes: bikes, patrol cars, etc. The response was pretty impressive.

We last spoke about safety on the MBT here.

62 Comment

  • scary. i’m glad your injuries were not serious.

  • Kids? No. Sociopathic scum.

  • T

    The swift and forceful police response is reassuring. Glad you’re OK.

  • Pepper spray. The only logical thing to do is to defend yourself, when nobody else is looking out for you.

  • You know what makes me angry when I read this? The cops. Every time something like this happens in DC (which seems to be pretty often), the cops play the “blame the victim” game, making all sorts of suggestions about what WE THE VICTIMS should have done differently. What they NEED to do is get a really good description of the little thugs and then hunt their butts down. Then, the city needs to change its laws so that the parents of children who do these things, along with the children themselves, are held responsible. We are turning out sociopaths in this city who have no respect for authority and no conscience. It is frightening.

    • Let’s not get carried away here. The cops were not, based on the advice listed by the OP, blaming the victim. It seems to me like they were simply offering good advice for how to avoid being the victim of such an attack in the future.

    • Also, sociopaths are void of human feeling and empathy….I don’t doubt these kids are despicable but that term is probably more fitting a description for a lobbyist or wall street trader than a punk kid….

  • Can you explain “clotheslining”? From the context, I think I understand, but I’m not sure.

    • It’s when you’re knocked down by something (arm, rope, fence) hitting you in the neck or throat while you’re moving. It’s like what would happen to you as a kid when you ran across the backyard and got caught by the clothesline in the dark.

      • I once met an 18 year-old girl that was paralyzed from the neck down (for life) after being clothes-line. It is not a harmless prank.

        She was strapped to a plank. After I left her I broke down and wept for an hour. These vicious gangstas just don’t care about the damage they do.

  • cops need to stop waiting and reacting to these situations, and actually make an effort to prevent them from happening. This is for all types of crime in the city. I don’t want to hear excuses either, the reason why there was probably a quick response is because there were two cops sitting in their cruisers under the bridge by the MBT trail opening/DC Prep school watching movies, and chatting on their cell phones.

    • what should the cops be doing?

      • are you serious… did you read my post. Actually make an effort to police the path. What was this groups of kids purpose on the path. Were they jogging, riding bikes, walking dogs, going downtown to see the sites. Please, they sit in their cars and simply react when something happens.

        I live in brookland and am outside my house all the time. I see the same two young police officers about everyday, have they ever waved hi, are they part of the comunity, no. Get out of the car, make yourself known. PROTECT your citizens. Simply don’t give them tips on what to do after. Prevent it from happening. The MBT has one area where these crimes happen. I ride it everyday, so easy to police, its pure laziness that this happens. I’m sorry, and I have said this again and again, My U lock and the hammer thats attached to the frame of my bike is waiting for one these fine youths, and I won’t think twice about it.

        • gotryit

          Have you ever tried swinging a hammer or U-lock while on a bike? Please try it and post video.

          • ride a bike every single day for over 10 years, can do lots of things on a bike, smack cabs and bus drivers monthly, have I ever swung my ulock at some punk kid, no, have I ever swung my ULock at a cabbie’s car who almost took my life, you betcha.

            Gotta love the best advice is to avoid a trail that our taxes pay for, that was built for us, as citizens. Not everybody has to be like me, probably good they aren’t. But let me tell you this, when one of these low life’s gets walloped upside the head by some “hipster white boy” they will think twice before they do it again.

        • they do patrol the trail. they do have plain clothes people. go to your community police meetings. there are a lot of undercover and surveillance tactics being used.

        • i totally agree! the cops need to get off of their asses and out of their cars and actually INTERACT with the community!

        • Ur ridiculous, crime will happen no matter what… Ur the hipster type that moves into an area that used to be known as the murder Capitol of the world and gets mad that a single crime happens. Be realistic crime is inevitable and the police can only do so much, in reality you should be mad at the kids parents for not raising them correctly. Crime is down city wide, and DC is experiencing the lowest homicide rate in almost 60 years. So stop complaining, this are getting better and will continue to do so as time goes on. I’m sorry the biker was injured but in reality we can’t rely on police to be everywhere rather we should rely on ourselves not to put ourselves in vulnerable situations.

          And by the cops getting out of their car and saying hello to you, how does that change things? Will u engage them in conversation or are u just as rude as the rest of DC residents who are too pretentious to be neighborly. And then when u are having your conversation with the police and a crime happens around the corner you will blame them for not being visible on that block. Stop complaining and be realistic.

          • nope. i’m mad at their parents. AND i will still complain about each crime.
            your energy is misdirected.

          • I completely agree that it’s not realistic to expect the police to be everywhere or to expect that we can completely eliminate crime. Crime reduction doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. And it’s a good point that perhaps when these discussions come up, we should all try to keep in mind that there HAVE been improvements in the crime rate over the years. I think it’s difficult to maintain that sense of logic and nuance when we hear about individual violent crimes, because emotions like fear and frustration creep into it–human nature, I suppose.

            But in response to your dismissive comment about police officers getting out of their cruisers and greeting local residents, it is a well-established best practice from many cities and neighborhoods that community-centered/community-oriented policing–which includes increased foot patrols and more substantive, sincere interaction with neighborhood residents–has positive impacts on crime-fighting. Will it work magic? Will every resident respond to an officer’s “hello”? No, of course not. But it’s about greater engagement with the community, including greeting residents who are out and about, getting to know the local business owners, so that the officers become familiar faces in the neighborhood. This helps build trust for when the police need to turn to residents for information on crimes. If an officer knows his/her beat inside and out, it also helps improve knowledge about who congregates where, what the potential crime “hotspots” might be; and it improves an officer’s intuition about, for example, whether a group of roving teens is up to no good, or just a bunch of kids hanging out.

            Again, none of this is a perfect solution, and of course there will be times when officers can’t focus on the “softer” elements of policing because they need to respond to a crime in progress–as it should be. But I think there’s room to improve on foot patrols during the times when officers aren’t responding to an emergency situation.

          • Getting parents to raise their kids properly is a complex issue, and a long-term one.

            Putting more police in areas where attacks have happened is less complicated and can be done immediately.

          • Gotta love the MPD astroturf.

      • More foot patrols, maybe? I’m honestly not sure, as I have no personal experience in law enforcement–so perhaps there are reasons why more foot patrols in the District are not feasible or not the best idea, and I simply don’t know what those reasons are. But from what I’ve read, in general, that seems to be a “best practice” in policing, not only as a crime deterrent, but to increase visibility and build a rapport with the community. I’ll also acknowledge that my perspective on what MPD is or isn’t doing is based on my limited observation of uniformed officers in and around Columbia Heights–which thus far has consisted of officers either sitting in their cruisers or leaning against the side of a building (or inside a local establishement) engrossed in their mobile devices. So it’s entirely possible that there are already plenty of policing best practices going on…I just have yet to see them.

      • how about putting some single cops in plain clothes on bikes to be targeted by the criminals with backup nearby, rather than waiting for a citizen to get assaulted and reacting to an already committed crime?

        • do you people that complain about what the cops aren’t doing actually go to community meetings? they are doing this.

          is it working? no, not well enough. but at least be informed when you bitch.

    • We should nuke it from outer space. It’s the only way to be sure.

  • I want to know why these incidents are not being investigated as possible hate crimes. There’s an assault, but nothing was taken- so wouldn’t the motive meet the standards for that? I remember when the anti-gay assaults took place that MPD considered them hate crimes for this reason. We need to demand better from MPD.

    • The police aren’t really at fault. They have little incentive to catch violent kids because our city laws mean at most that they get a slap on the wrist and are released to do more violence.

      What we need are stricter laws – commit violence at any age, and you should be sent away for a few decades to mellow out. And it would be better for other kids for two reasons – one, violent kids target their peer groups more often than other mbt bikers, and two, permanently removing the most violence prone kids from the scene removes a bad influence on other kids. And that’s not even counting the deterence effect of strict anti-violence laws.

      • Um, how about the “incentive” is IT’S THEIR JOB? OK, now that that moment of snark is out of my system…I do understand what you’re saying, and I completely agree that better policing needs to go hand in hand with more effective prosecution and consequences. I just get frustrated with the defeatist attitude/excuse (not from you, Anon, but either from the media, the police, the general citizenry, or whatnot) that there’s “nothing” one area of law enforcement can do until their counterparts clean up their act. We should definitely work toward better laws, but would it really hurt for the police to step up their game in the meantime?

        • DC CapHill

          Would LOVE, ney PAY to see a video of hipster white boy clocking the living FUCK out of one of these little wayward bastards. Someone needs to give World Star Hip Hop a run for their money, and we’ve been waiting a LONG time for some retribution on the “youth” in this city.

          Totally agree with getting the stupid ass Cops to do their job. “Oh, but they have undercover guys….but but, they talk the talk, at the MEETINGS.” Yeah, how effective has any of that been? Not very, AND why in the shit did it take this long?

          And to the hate crime/how is this a hate crime crowd, the Cops own advice was to pull a U-turn. You’re at least partially racially profiling your potential attackers, doing that anyway! What good did it do to NOT profile these little shits and turn around? The victim got attacked and as of now, none of those scumbags got what should be coming to them.

          Those that want the laws changed, and the parents held accountable, I’ll say twofold; STOP MAKING SENSE, and in this city, good luck. The only time these jokers get their hackles up, is if you’re actually trying to make someone accountable.

          • i would also seriously pay to see that!

          • DC CapHill

            Thanks, Gene. I’ve actually seen that before, and while amusing, not really what I’m talking about.

            I want to see any youth offender, armed or otherwise, or a gang of their ilk, get completely DESTROYED. Sell the video for profits for all I care, I’m done with the subhuman element in his City, that want to live outside of civilized society, while getting away with essentially murder, or murder, itself.

            The Cops and the Counts are never going to give the victim of one of these violent crimes, the kind of satisfaction if takes, to get “past” something like this. Perhaps a vigilante will. Where are our ‘Real Life Superheroes’ when we need them? Lol….aren’t they running wild in places like San Jose, California? Perhaps we can take out a personal ad, as a City of citizens?

    • How is it a hate crime? Cyclists are not a protected class as far as I know.

  • Very sorry to hear about more crime on this trail. That said, you couldn’t pay me to use the MBT. No. Friggin’. Way.

    • me either.

      • Best advice you can take: Stay as far away from this path as possible.

      • Agreed. Personally, I consider the trail unusable for now.

        • albany

          Agreed, I used to go running on this trail – I was always aware of my surroundings and never had anything happen, but I figured I shouldn’t push my luck after the last rash of assaults. Running on a treadmill sucks, but it’s better than being jumped by a bunch of hoodlums.

    • Agreed. I used to ride the MBT to/from work every day, but I gave it up out of safety concerns. One day in June I passed a guy that had been assaulted/mugged (not sure) in broad daylight, 5 minutes before I came up the path. Since then I won’t touch it. Which is a pity, because now I have to bike RI Ave for three very dangerous blocks, instead, but I’ll take my chances with aggressive motorists over the risk of being assaulted/raped.

  • The exact same thing happened to me about 5 years ago when I was biking in an alley between 8th and 9th st, just north of P St NW, in Shaw. Scary, but no major damage. Lesson learned that kids of a young age can still be dangerous.

  • Sadly, this criminal activity has been going on for over a year now and the police, whether they are fully engaged or not, haven’t been able to stop it. The best advice, the only advice really at this point, that makes sense to me is: Don’t use the Metro Branch Trail, at all.

    Yeah, the punks win, but hey, they’ve won. Not worth being paralyzed or killed.

  • I wouldnt ever ever use this path. I dont care that tax payer money was used or that thugs shouldn’t be able to ruin public property (oh, or attack innocent people), fact of the matter is, they do and its a thug- riddled death trap. I have no interest in biking or walking somewhere that I have to protect myself by beating punks off with a u-lock.

  • suggestion 5: stop blinding voting democrat and question the real effects of liberal policies.

  • I swear, the comments in these crime threads are like a broken record.

    1. Someone gets angry and lashes out
    2. Someone insults the person from #1
    3. Race card
    4. Rinse, repeat

  • I’ve resorted to just calling the police anytime I see a group of kids hanging out together. I live near the MBT and often see groups of 5 or more black teens walking around like they own the neighborhood. I call the cops immediately.

    • Ahh…if only “walking around like they own the neighborhood” was grounds for arrest, 18th St. would be a lot more chill on Friday/Saturday nights.

    • Meh. I encounter people–of many different ages, races, styles of dress, etc.–“walking around like they own the neighborhood” all the time. Irritating perhaps, but hardly criminal. But who knows, maybe that’s just my own, completely unfounded and off-base perception of these individuals and their attitude; maybe they just think they’re going about their business and I’m the one who’s misjudging them. Absent any specific behaviors (harrassing/threatening passerby, destroying property, etc.) what does walking around like one owns the neighborhood really even mean, anyway?

      • i think a feeling of ownership over ones neighborhood is a great thing.

        • Agreed, and I think “entitlement” would be a better way to describe the attitude that I perceive sometimes. Or, if I have more than one word to describe it, the vibe that an individual or group is walking around with an inflated sense of self and without regard to, interest in, or consideration of the individuals/community around them. (Not sure if this is what the original commenter was getting at, but I’m all for having less of my first defintion of “walking around like they own they neighborhood” and more of your definition!)

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