“This is the third time this past week that a man, in some way, has harassed me on or near this area/intersection”

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday around 3pm I was in my car waiting at a red light at the corner of Florida Avenue and North Capital Street when 3 men circled my car and started yelling obscenities and cursing at me. One of them came up to my drivers’ side window and repeatedly cursed at me before trying to break my window with a knife or some other thing with a blade. Fortunately I had decided to keep my windows up because of the heat, and he did not succeed in shattering my window and merely scratched it.

This is the third time this past week that a man, in some way, has harassed me on or near this area/intersection. The first, I was walking on Florida Ave near 2nd street NW and a man on a bike made sexual comments to me. The second time was when shortly after that encounter, I met a friend at Bistro Bohem; we sat outside on the corner (we were the only ones seated outside) and while we were waiting for our food, I could see a different man from my peripheral vision approaching us and holding a Solo cup. He entered the seating area, stood within an inch of me and stood there looking down at me without saying anything. I asked him what he wanted and he asked me for change; I told him I had no change (which I didn’t) and he continued to stand there for 10 seconds just looking at me before walking away; I was honestly preparing what my next move would be in case he decided to hit me because that was the kind of posturing he was demonstrating.

If you are a (female) biker or pedestrian, I would avoid the aforementioned intersection and the blocks leading to it; if you are driving through, might be best to keep your windows up, too. I don’t plan on sitting outside at the neighboring businesses anymore if I’m the only person or one of a few, and don’t think that’s a bad idea for others, either, since no one inside the restaurant saw what had happened. I’m not a naive alarmist who doesn’t know how to take care of herself in cities; I’ve grown up and lived in large cities my whole life, and have been frequenting and living in this particular neighborhood cumulatively for the last 3 years without any aggression from anyone. These experiences in succession in such a short span of time may just be coincidence or bad luck, but they could also reflect that something more insidious might be occurring in our neighborhood.”

45 Comment

  • samanda_bynes

    jeez, that’s freaky. especially just three random guys walking around the car. however, it also doesn’t surprise me – that area was a freakin urban desert years ago, and high end restaurants only do so much. glad to hear that you weren’t hurt though.

  • Bistro Bohem is six blocks from North Cap and Florida. Hardly the same place.

    • Yeah, “the blocks leading to it” is a fairly broad swath of territory for female pedestrians and cyclists to avoid, especially if you live here.

    • The behavior she described is all over DC, so the block or intersection or neighborhood name is practically irrelevant. She thought she was detailing incidents in a particular area, but actually this happens in numerous random places all over DC. I’ve been yelled at, taunted, and physically intimidated by total strangers n Petworth, Columbia Heights, Takoma, and elsewhere — completely unprovoked — more times than I can keep count of. Usually these incidents contain a racial and/or misogynist component, such as being called a “mother*cker” for walking down a set of steps this person happened to sitting on (“motherf*cker, you see me sittin’ here”), being called a “white bitch” for accidentally elbowing someone on a crowded escalator, being yelled at by a man for crossing the street away from him (because that’s the direction I was going), and getting yelled at for not “speaking to a black man” who had apparently said something to me that I didn’t hear because — duh — I had my earphones in. It goes on and on and on. Basically, folks need to accept this is the current climate of the city we live in and stop treating every incident as if something new and bizarre is happening that others need to be warned about. Be vigilant, stay calm, focus on the positives about living here, and carry on.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Sure bad stuff happens all over the place, but if it happens to the same person 3 times in a 7-day period in a span of a couple blocks, that sounds like a bit more than should reasonably be expected at some random location.

        • It probably FEELS that way to her. I noted that she’s a driver/car-owner. I am not. I’m a “professional walker”, meaning I walk or metro everywhere. And I cover a lot of ground, am in a lot of neighborhoods, and encounter a lot of people. Drivers don’t have personal interaction as much as someone who walks or uses public transport. They just don’t. I guarantee that if I walked by the same corner every day where the man yelled at me for “not speaking to a black man” I would be able to recount more incidences there because of the fact that it’s simply a bad corner. I hope this makes sense: basically, if you drive you encounter WAY less person-to-person incidents. So on those occasions when you do encounter them it might feel like there’s a problem with the location. When in reality there’s problems with a lot of locations — but the OP probably is just limited in her experience of them.

          • The OP is basically experiencing what every day is like at the North Cap-Florida intersection and the stretch from Florida-Georgia to Florida-T (Duke Ellington statue). It would only be unusual if these areas were actually cleaned up and you didn’t have to deal with harassment by drunks and mentally ill people. That doesn’t discount the OP’s point. In fact, it supports her point.

          • HaileUnlikely

            You seem to acknowledge that “bad corners” exist and that you’d experience more instances of less-than-positive interactions if you walked by that one corner where you got yelled at for “not speaking to a black man” before, because, you say, “it’s simply a bad corner.” It appears to me that the OP is saying basically the same thing about Florida & North Cap. And honestly, I can’t disagree with her on that one. I’ve lived in DC without a car for 13 years, used to commute exclusively on foot from Takoma/Brightwood to downtown, now I take the bus or metro but still have 2+ miles of walking on my round-trip, and I’ve been robbed at gunpoint twice in incidents that I regard as basically random at locations that I still walk by twice every day, but I concur with the OP that Florida & North Cap ain’t exactly a pleasant place to be.

  • Doesn’t the triangle park at northwest corner of that intersection tend to attract some unsavory characters?

    • Victim blaming already? 😉

      • Accountering

        Cut the crap… This isn’t victim blaming at all. This is simply saying that that corner is ridiculous, and the police should clean it up. Over the past few weeks I have seen police there in the past. Allowing a homeless encampment, complete with furniture, for people to drink until the pass out is clearly not the option. Clean it up, trash the junk, and move people off of this corner.

        • Relax! I’m pretty sure that was a joke hence the smiley face.

        • The furniture is ridiculous. How is that a thing?

        • and how exactly will police clean up the corner?

          I’ve lived on NW unit of Florida for five years now and I can tell you that that corner has not changed much, perhaps only incrementally for the better. These disadvantaged folks have no other place to be, it’s a social gathering spot for those who don’t have much. If you bounce between hospitals, social services, and homeless shelters, you come here to hang out and see your friends. Even people who live in the neighborhood come hang there. Put yourself in the shoes of others, before mounting your high horse.

          Also, no one actually sleeps there overnight, you don’t know that since you drive by there with windows closed, but I do. There is no homeless encampment as you call it. I guess best way to deal with it is to move it from your view, right? Out of sight, out of mind?

          The other month, I’ve witness something really funny where a bunch of white yuppies were eating DC Smokehouse food right there, side by side with the locals.

          There is no quick fix to that corner. What will most likely happen is this:
          1) the grassy patch, by q st across the street will be developed within 2-3 years.
          2) the vacant gas station lot will become 4-5 floor condo unit with business on the bottom floor
          3) all the “unsavory characters” will be displaced to another vacant corner 2 blocks south of florida/n.cap

          Times 5 years, repeat the cycle.


          • Accountering

            You are so off-base with some of your comments. First, I didn’t say people sleep there, just that they set up camp (milk crates) and get drunk until the pass out. The way to temporarily deal with a problem of drunks passing out on a street corner and harassing people is to not allow them to be on that corner.
            The best way to deal with it is a combination of counseling, medications as necessary, and housing initiatives like housing first, to try and help these people back into being productive members of society. All things I am a strong supporter of. I am not willing to just allow drunks to take over corners of the city. Way to lump all of your pre-conceived notions on me and assume that I am some racist fool though.

        • Accountering

          Ahh, missed the smiley face. Work is blocking all sorts of stuff these days, so I miss icons, and just see a square block where (presumably) there is a smiley face 🙂

          • not you specifically, just general frustration of approach of some commenters on this blog when it comes to less fortunate people in our city.

      • In case there was any doubt… I was speculating that crazy people in the vicinity of the Florida/North Capitol intersection are probably ones who hang out mostly in the triangle park and occasionally venture further afield to harass people.

        • The triangle park (I think it’s actually called Truxton Circle Park), the bus stop, and the liquor store on the corner make for a perfect storm of harassment.

  • I have also noticed the island at the west side of that intersection just growing with people loitering and/or sitting on milk crates and appearing completely zoned out. Have been in the area for a while and it seems to be getting worse.

    • Agreed. I always have doors locked and windows up when driving through that area, and have started avoiding it altogether at night, but now I’ll likely avoid it in daylight too. I’m sorry this happened to you, OP! I agree with Anon2 about reporting it, in hopes that it will eventually get some attention…

  • Yeah that triangle at Florida/N Cap has recently become the congregating spot for some folks that last year spent most time across the street at the Exxon.

    • houseintherear

      That triangle has been the same way for at least the decade I’ve lived in the area. It is what it is. DC does not have a no-loitering law, and there’s a bus stop, so there’s not much that can be done. Just avoid it.

      • Try three decades. That block’s been like that since I was buying booze at Big Ben in the 1980s. Anybody remember the Methadone McDonalds?

        • houseintherear

          Ha- I almost said 4 decades, aka (almost) my life span… I remember driving in from the Md ‘burbs with my Dad in the early 80s. He ran a trash company for the DC region and we would visit the autoclave down in NE (talk about a scary area, at the time) and then a few other places in the city. When we went through Ivy City on NY Ave, which was littered with hookers and drug dealers, my Dad would sometimes run the red lights there to avoid having to stop. I remember the intersection of N. Cap on Florida feeling very scary. It looked worse then- more people, and more of them more threatening that they are now. Some things never change!

          • houseintherear

            worth noting that the fake ivy car silhouettes along the fence along NY Ave in Ivy City are original to like 1982! I love seeing those.

  • Report, report, report. I had two similar situations in broad day light in the south Columbia Heights and U St. areas. In the gram scheme of things, the encounters weren’t a big deal– a male punched me in the arm and kept walking (he moved right into my space right before the punch and never looked it– intentional punch) and a man coming right up to me, within inches, and cursing at me for money as if it was a stick up (no, he did not appear homeless and was very aggressive.) In both cases, I just kept going, but I regret it. These incidents happened in populated areas in the middle of the day and within 2 days of each other. I have also lived in big cities for 10+ years and I have also been mugged once and harassed before, but this “felt” different like no time of day or no amount of crowds is a deterrent any longer. A shame.

  • HaileUnlikely

    I concluded as much in about 2005. Others have told me that the area is now a lot better. If better means “has a couple of nice things in addition to everything that makes me want to stay the F* away,” then ok, but everything that made me want to stay the F* away 10 years ago is still there.

  • I was in a cab near that intersection, at New York and Florida, this past weekend and something similar happened. A random guy walking through the traffic begging for change approached our cab. He just punched the front passenger-side window, shouted something that we didn’t understand, and just kept walking. It was incredibly bizarre.

  • This stretch of north capital has been awful, and has remained awful for as long as I can remember. I go out of my way to steer clear of it.

  • The intersection of at N. Capital and Florida Ave. NW is terrible. I live approx a mile away on 1st St NW and that is a part of my running route as well as how I get to and from school (walking/biking). I constantly have to run in the street if I am coming down N. Capital to make the right onto Florida Ave because groups of men (and sometimes women) block the sidewalk. Of course then I have to deal with them making comments about how I look (regular clothes or work out clothes) and its rather frustrating. I wish the police would do something to move these people so that we as pedestrians could at least use the sidewalk safely.

  • I specifically avoided a beautiful apartment just north of here because it meant I would have to walk through this intersection on the way to and from the metro. It’s always made me uncomfortable, and I avoid it unless I’m with my boyfriend.

  • Emmaleigh504

    The difference is you seem to take it as a compliment, but most women wonder if this will be their rape or death.

  • The corner has been like that for decades. I was recently reading a book by a DC-local author (The Drug Wars In America 1940-1973, by Kathleen Frydl) that had a quote from congressmen pointing at problems at that specific corner as a case study in why we needed to crack down on drugs. No comment on the politics, but just noting that this intersection has been an issue for literally 50+ years.

    • What’s called for here are even more precious small plates.

      • Because hipster bait solves everything, except of course, it doesn’t.. The area used to be a complete no-go for me when I lived here in the 90s, but not now. Clearly it helps to be male.

  • I was a passenger on a motorcycle at this corner yesterday, and was made incredibly uncomfortable by a man that approached us while we were on the bike. He made a lot of sexual comments and then starting barking at me. Literal barking, people. Then he touched the driver’s arm before we drove off. While my 6’6 male friend driving the motorcycle found the whole thing to be hilarious (thanks for nothing, pal), if I had been the one touched I would have lost my cool very quickly.

  • Spit and urn around twice! Dang! Seems like you we had a run of bad luck. Hope it improves! Sending you good juju

  • As someone who owns a home overlooking this corner, I can tell you the issues here stem from the overwhelming number of social services in the immediate area, to include homeless shelters and a soup kitchen that buses in a thousands of homeless and mentally ill into the neighborhood every day, whereupon it dumps them out onto to the corner between the hours of breakfast, lunch, and dinner when the shelters reopen for the night.

    Frankly, there’s no reason this corner should not have a 24/7 police presence. As practical advice, I strongly suggest anyone living in the neighborhood call the police (911) whenever they witness something illegal occurring at the corner, particular open containers or drug dealing. While until recent years the city’s leadership has been willing to turn a blind eye and dump many of its problems into a small, concentrated area, it’s not fair to those of us who live and in the neighborhood to have our safety and that of our families put at risk to deal with an itinerant population of belligerent drunks and druggies day in and day out.

  • This “park” is a mess that needs to be cleaned up. Drove past their recently and there was the usual ambulance. Treatment for mental Illness and substance abuse, which co-occur in about 50% of individuals in either category, is available at several locations within 15 minutes walk of Florida and North Capitol. Public drunkeness is illegal in DC. Let’s start enforcing the law at hotspots like this one. It is disgusting that drunk guys harass women, whether they are at Florida and North Capitol or at the “craft cocktail” bars described way too often on this blog. At least at the former there’s no pretense.

  • I’ve lived 3 blocks from this intersection for the past 5 years and I totally agree it’s where I feel the least safe. My former roommate (a young woman) once had her arm grabbed as she walked through the intersection, and last week a man saluted then followed my friend and I for a few blocks as another couple of people screamed in each other’s faces…. it’s an overall mess.

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