“walking home from work shortly before 6pm..without any warning, one of them (5-6 teens) punched me on the side of the head” then kept walking

attack
Photo by PoPville flickr user Brett Weinstein

“Dear PoPville,

Last Tuesday (1/5), I was walking home from work shortly before 6pm. I was heading North on 9th St. NW. Just below the corner of Allison St., I saw a group of 5 or 6 boys who looked to be between 12 and 15 years old heading in my direction. I didn’t give it much thought, but as we passed by each other, without any warning, one of them punched me on the side of the head and knocked me to the ground.

Fortunately, they kept moving, and by the time I was back on my feet, they were already well down the block. They made no attempt to rob me or inflict any more blows on me, but obviously it was pretty unpleasant. I had previously heard reports of kids playing the so-called “Knock-Out Game” but hadn’t give the idea much credence. It appears, however, that this is a real thing and that it’s happening right here in Petworth, so I urge everyone to be extra careful when out on the streets after dark.”

Ed. Note: In the past talk of the “Knock-Out Game” has veered the discussion off course, I think that the important element of this note is that there was another unprovoked attack by teens where nothing was stolen.

125 Comment

  • If I see a large group of teens heading my way I cross the street. Not willing to risk my life to be politically correct.

  • Nothing to see here, this totally happens in EVERY city! Just be more vigilant is all!

    • Vigilant about what though? Existing? Should they be teleporting back and forth to work? This isn’t a robbery that occurred at 2am at an ATM, this was someone walking home from work before 6pm that was randomly attacked without any provocation

    • There was a robbery of a young man at Quincy St & Kansas Ave last month… AT 8PM! Someone else was robbed in the same location this week, but a little later in the night.

    • You posted this same thing yesterday, I don’t get this response. The person was vigilant, he saw people coming/knew the surroundings, how do you remove yourself from this situation entirely?

    • What other cities? Do you have first-hand knowledge?

      • I think the original comment is just a sarcastic characterization of what people see as the “typical” response from police and the mayor in DC: “This is a part of city living. Be aware of your surroundings.”

      • phl2dc

        To answer your question, it happens in Philly.

  • Just a few more gentle souls who need a hug, amiright?

    I hope whoever this happened to reported it somewhere other than Popville.

  • Ugh, so sorry this happened to OP. Sounds terrifying. I really hope s/he reported it to MPD.

  • Robberies are up significantly in DC compared to last year. Any stat can be manipulated. MPD and the Mayor are masters of this.

    • This wasn’t a robbery. This was just animalistic violence.

      • Uh oh, you said the “a” word. Prepare for a scolding.

        • It wasn’t an accident. It’s analogous to the line from Forest Gump: “stupid is as stupid does,” right? If someone acts like an animal, then its reasonable for people to conclude that’s what they are. Let’s start putting the blame on whoever it teaching them that’s an acceptable way for humans to act.

        • That’s because she deserves a scolding. It’s completely unacceptable to call these children animals or their behavior animalistic. Animals don’t commit random acts of violence for no reason. Animals generally only commit acts of violence to protect or feed themselves or their young, not for fun. Calling these kids animals is a disservice to animals.

          • You’re right, and I am sincerely sorry to all the animals and animal-lovers I offended. Clearly I need to work on my implicit biases and speciesism. I need to go home to thank my pets for not being DC-bred teenagers.

          • I used to own a cat who totally disproves your theory. He was a jerk and would attack me in my sleep for no reason. But while we’re on the subject, they’re a-holes, not animals.

          • Preliminary research into otters and dolphins disproves your ad-hoc logic. Nice try though.

          • Nerrrrrrd- YES! Otters are the absolute worst. Cute, though.

          • I have to respectfully disagree. I have two cats, a brother and sister. The brother loooooves to attack his much smaller sister and chase her around the house for no damn reason at all hours of the day and night. These pointless attacks are almost always unprovoked. It’s obnoxious, but then he’s an animal so he has an excuse for acting like one. Unlike, say, the useless pieces of **** who punched the OP in the head.

  • I wonder where I’ve heard about this type of incident before…oh that’s right, it’s happening in DC every.damn.day. OP – hope you are doing okay.

  • Ugh, this is terrible. Robberies involving force and violence are bad, but at least they have sort of a logical motive. Force and violence with no robbery attempt even involved are really troubling.

  • Same thing happened to me in November on Arkansas Avenue near Crittenden, which is the same neighborhood. The followed me for a block then did the same thing. When I didn’t go down they just ran across the street.

  • I have an honest question. I am NOT here to offend anyone. I am just honestly curious. Would white people respond differently in situations like this if the teens were white? Would they be more willing to intervene and or defend themselves or others?

    • 1) I didn’t see that the OP stated the race of the assailants (OR himself) anywhere, so I’m not sure how this question is relevant, but….
      2) I highly doubt it. A white kid was knocked into a coma at my high school when another white kid sucker punched him.
      3) How come PoPville readers always assume that OP’s are white and assailants are not?

      • Re. #3: Groups of teens in neighborhoods west of the Park are generally people of color, by virtue of demographics.
        .
        The first half of the assumption is a more complicated/interesting one. Maybe people assume “other PoPville readers” = “people like me” and most PoPville readers are white?

        • Good point on both accounts, textdoc.

          • Again- you’re the one doing the assuming. I’m not. Where did I mention anything about the victim and the attackers? It’s just a question.

          • @anonymous – but your presumption is that the teens ARE white. you can’t ask someone if they would react differently to this or a similar situation without explicitly stating or presuming a particular context.

        • EAST of the park. I meant EAST.
          .
          Need more caffeine.

        • Also because there was a reader poll a while back that asked about race, and a majority of PoPville readers identified as white.

      • justinbc

        The second part of #3 you can answer by looking at virtually every crime report put out by MPD over the last I don’t know how many years. It’s nearly the same description in every single one. As for the second part, you can only guess / extrapolate that they view white people as an easier, more placid target. Beating up a random white guy / lady on the street isn’t likely to result in him going to get his gang of friends and in turn hunting you down for revenge.
        ————-
        As to the OP’s question, it frankly doesn’t matter, because that’s so rarely ever the case in DC that it’s honestly not even worth considering at this point. It’s a very clear, repeated pattern here.

    • Are you talking about the victims, the bystanders (if applicable), or both?
      .
      I think your question might be more relevant for a sustained attack. In a situation involving a one-off punch, bystanders can’t really intervene (it’s already happened) and victims can’t really “defend” themselves unless they anticipate the single punch before it happens and somehow pre-empt it.

    • Just speaking for myself here, but I would be terrified of any group of teens that were attacking people unprovoked. If they are willing to do that who knows what else they are capable of.

    • I’m a white woman and I’ve twice intervened when teens were beating up somebody. Nothing bad happened to me either time. Once they ran away as soon as I yelled and once they started taunting me from across the street (I was yelling across Irving Street) and I yelled back that they could keep hanging out there and yelling at me all they wanted because it would just give the police more time to arrive. Which they did. I also knock on the windows of cars and ask drivers to cease their cell phone use. I have no fear of shaming people and no harm has ever come to me because of it (knocks wood). I do think being female gives me a significant amount of protection in this regard as I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a woman randomly being sucker punched in these parts, and as a cyclist I see a pretty clear gender delineation in the type of threats and harassment I receive vis a vis male cyclists (from people of all ages and races).

      • Umm just a friendly piece of advice….I would NOT go up to strangers in their cars and knock on their windows. That is just asking for problems. While they may be “breaking the law”, it’s a law that is not being enforced by the police. You should not take it into your own hands. And while I do not use my phone in the car, I would hardly be listening to some rando that came up to my car and started knocking on my window.

        • JohnH, I agree with you. But based on Eva’s other comments, I think (hope) she knocks on people’s cars while cycling. Maybe the drivers drifted in her lane because they didn’t pay attention to the road while using their phones. If in that context, I’m okay with the knocking on car windows. It’s like tooting your car horn to get the other driver’s attention when they’re about to hit you because you’re in the blind spot or they just are not paying attention.

      • I got mugged and beaten (punched six times in the face) while walking down 9th to Kansas to go to the store. It was 1:00 pm in the afternoon on a Sunday. I grew up here and I never thought it would happen to me. Then it did.

  • Excellent, another chance for the apologists from yesterday to do their stuff. For simplicity’s sake, how about I create a multiple list of excuses and platitudes, and you can just choose of the menu? Here goes:
    a) They’re upset about the demographic changes in their neighborhood.
    b) They’re angry that they can’t get jobs.
    c) It’s their brain chemistry.
    d) They feel powerless.
    e) Locking them up won’t do any good.
    f) Those poor children – how can we help them?
    g) Mr(s). OP victim, it was your white privilege that made them do it. (Yes, there are some assumptions laden in this, but they’re reasonable ones.)
    h) Someone pushed by them on the metro, or didn’t serve them quickly enough at a restaurant, and that made them angry; this was the result
    i) They’re not bad kids – all they need is some mentoring!
    j) Also, lessons in non-violent conflict resolution!

    • Unclench.

      • +1. While I think most of these “excuses and platitudes” are kind of ridiculous by themselves, I’m pretty sure we could find some evidence that several of the suggestions you listed as platitudes actually do help reduce violence (IN COMBINATION with better policing, etc). I have tried not to get into these conversations on PoPville as often because the complete dismissal of opinions and ideas on here (both good and not-so-good) is just abysmal.

        • “I have tried not to get into these conversations on PoPville as often because the complete dismissal of opinions and ideas on here (both good and not-so-good) is just abysmal.” I was saying to Andie last night that her decision not to read the “A couple was attacked” thread was probably a wise one. 🙁

          • Hah, yeah, I started and couldn’t go on.

          • This is true, though sometimes I worry that “dismissing of ideas” is too easily equated to “not agreeing with me after I explain my position”. People really, fundamentally disagree on this one. I am not sure there is anything we can say to one another on a blog that is going to change anyone else’s mind. All we do is establish – in escalating terms – that we disagree, each of us characterizing the other’s argument in terms that make it easiest to dismantle. It’s pretty depressing.

          • justinbc

            In principle I definitely agree, that’s the overwhelming majority of conversations. However, I know on several occasions through conversation back and forth here I’ve been persuaded to believe differently about something than I did when the conversation began, typically due to an understanding of new information. One of the goals of a comment thread on local issues should be to spark debate, not agreeing is inherent. The key is to not walk away wanting to smash your keyboard into oblivion so that you can reengage in a healthy, productive manner.

          • There’s a difference between disagreeing dismissively — in a snide/sarcastic manner, with belittling comments, etc. — and disagreeing with someone in a civil, respectful way.

          • “There’s a difference between disagreeing dismissively — in a snide/sarcastic manner, with belittling comments, etc. ”
            .
            This is exactly what I meant. I usually like disagreement because I usually learn something new. However, when it is done in a way that makes me think the person’s main purpose is to put others down, disagreement seems to become unproductive.

        • Assuming yours is an opinion that makes it onto the board in the first place.

      • Ever-prudent advice right there

    • Most kids who have gotten to the point of randomly punching strangers are lost causes, or somewhere on the lost cause spectrum. MOST. But because it’s not ALL, we can’t have policies that would treat them all as disposable. Especially since those policies would overwhelmingly affect communities of color. You know they would. Look at how marijuana arrests play out, despite there being solid evidence that weed smoking is just as prevalent in other demographics.
      You can be as glib and dismissive as you like about the facts of neurological development, but it doesn’t get us closer to improving ANYONE’S life.
      (I’m angry too. And I like you. But this doesn’t help.)

      • You’re right, it doesn’t help – I was feeling snarky, and the juxtaposition of the comments yesterday and yet another nearly identical incident today brought it out. And of all the points I mocked, the neurological development point is (in my opinion) the best one. And I don’t want to treat anyone as disposable.
        .
        But.
        .
        Enough is enough. Many of the points above were raised as alternatives to calls for increased policing/prosecution/sentences. In the abstract, I’m all for greater education, focus on poverty solutions, anti-mass incarceration, etc. (The “gentrification or white privilege made me do it” excuses to beating the crap out of random strangers are still ridiculous, though). But those are long tern solutions – years or decades. There also have to be immediate measures taken with respect to public safety and, yes, punishment.
        P.S. – I like you too.

        • justinbc

          The great thing is we live in a world where we don’t have to just pick one. We can push for greater education, more stable housing, etc while still implementing harsher punishments and things of those nature to crack down on the bad actors.
          The sad thing is our political climate in DC means we likely won’t do either.

    • “a) They’re upset about the demographic changes in their neighborhood.”

      Agreed. This falls flat. Don’t confuse crime for the legitimate neighborhood character that people lament losing. These kids could give two turds about politics or property values. They were doomed to be jerks before mr. & mrs. birkenstocks moved into that neighborhood.

      The only difference between most long-term residents and most new residents is that the long-term residents have been dealing with riffraff like that for a lot longer. Long-timers who don’t cash in and leave for PG celebrate like the rest when problem houses get forced out. Apologists for bad kids’ bad behavior are nonconstructive.

  • Things aren’t going to get better unless we hold elected office holders accountable. If enough people start insisting on better performance from their government and take action in the ballot box when they don’t get it; you will start to see real changes to the city.

  • Knock Knock, who is there? NOT YOUR TAX DOLLARS!

  • White, black, purple, green. These kids need a beat down.

  • These ruffians will graduate from this onto something bigger & hopefully receive some punishment for that. Or change their lives, pay attention in school, graduate & become productive citizens, sorry they took part in attacking some random human for nothing. I’m distressed that this happened.

    • One of the strong arguments, in my opinion, for treating crimes like these as serious ones is that it might help the kids who perpetrate these crimes turn their lives around sooner. I’ve worked in a juvenile justice-related field so I know the answer isn’t to get them into “the system.” However, I think a reaction to a crime like this that would scare them enough to understand that law enforcement isn’t a joke while they are still young enough to not receive life-ruinous consequences could go a long way.

      • +1. I think it is safe to assume their parents aren’t good examples of what’s right/wrong if it has gotten to this point. Someone needs to straighten that out for them before they end up with much more serious charges.

        On a semi related note, what ever happened to the good ole “throw them in jail for a night to scare them” tactic? Was that just in the movies?

      • when you were working in that field, did you ever come across something like the ‘scared straight’ program in DC? about 15 years ago an acquaintance went through a version in Vermont and it really turned his life around.

      • I guess it depends on what you mean by “the system.” I’m not a big fan of misdemeanor arrests for minor “quality of life” offenses. There are a lot of people who are unemployable or difficult to employ because they have a record of these kinds of arrests.
        But I am in favor of throwing the book at someone for a serious crime, like assault. Even if it’s a teenager. I don’t think that getting away with this kind of behavior will make these kids less likely to do it again. If this can be done in a way that does not ruin their lives, great. But if not, so be it. It’s only a matter of time until one of these threads is about someone who ends up in a hospital bed in a coma because of one of these attacks.

  • If you voted for Bowser or didn’t vote at all, please don’t complain about youth crime. An establishment democratic mayor in one of the most liberal cities in the U.S. is never going to take a tough stance on this type of crime. Maybe you all missed that class at Vassar, but that is how it works.

    • I’ve had just about enough of your Vassar-bashing, young lady!

    • Yeah, I did miss that class at Vassar. How does me being a democrat make me automatically weak on crime?

      • I didn’t say “automatically.” I intended to communicate that a far left-leaning administration is not going to seek harsher enforcement of non-felony juvenile offenses. Such initiatives would be politically unpopular with some of the base and potentially at odds with the idea that these offenses are the result of protracted social injustice.

    • UM do not speak ill of Meryl Streep’s alma mater

      (and also mine).

      Thanks.

  • And this is why whenever I see a group of kids, or even a guy walking on his own at night (particularly if I can’t tell if he’s nicely dressed), I’ll cross the street or walk in the street itself (I live on the Hill so not a lot of traffic). It’s annoying and awkward and sometimes I’m a little obvious, but I’m not taking any chances.

    • You must be the person who precipitated the implosion on newhilleast a few months back.

    • I am a large, black male professional, who doesn’t often walk around in suits – although I do look good in a suit. I could care less if you cross the street when I am approaching you. I would much rather have that than get maced or hit with a stun gun because you interpreted my “Hello” as “Hand over your wallet.” Do whatever you have to do, as long as it doesn’t interfere with me or my rights.

    • I would be careful about profiling people not dressed “nicely” because a perp is a perp. Some of the nicest dressed guys are creeps.

      • That’s true. But it’s rare that someone in a business suit snatches your purse, or clubs you over the head for your wallet.

  • I cannot wait until they mess with the wrong person and get their head whacked back or shot in the knees.
    Sorry (not sorry)

  • This has happened to me twice since living in DC; once on the bike path near the Lincoln Memorial, and once when I was seated at a coffee shop in Dupont Circle. I guess it’s a favorite “yuck” among some sets, but it is dangerous.

    • In both cases, the hitter passed me on a bike and struck my head with an open hand. I was not knocked to the ground though. When it happened at the coffee shop, I pursued the kids, who got caught in a sidewalk crowd on their bikes, and I chewed them out. They were VERY young — probably about 14 or so. At the Memorial, I was walking, and the person sped by on a bike and hit me. They were also young teens, from what I could see. (Have a nice day?!)

      • How would you describe yourself. I curious about what you look like. These kids are purely cowards who wouldn’t do this on a one on one situation. They usually attack women and men they perceive at weak. They don’t pick on dudes who are 6’3 240lbs but I could be wrong. Just curious?

        • I am on the bigger side — not small…. but they were going by on bikes in both cases and thought it was a clear get away — they were right in the first instance, but not in the second. In case one I was walking; in case two, I was sitting by the edge of a coffee shop outdoors and they hit me going by on a bike.

  • I’m really sorry this happened to you! Is there a reasonable way to prevent things like this?

  • “I didn’t give it much thought.”

    🙁

  • Any chance these were El Haynes students? The school is right there. I had an issue with some of their students once and I notified the school and the problem was rectified and have not had any issues since.

    I actually had pictures so it was pretty definitive that they were students at the school but maybe contact the school just to see if they have any after school programs that would get out that late would be helpful.

  • Is there civil liability for this kind of crime? And if the perps are minors can’t their parents be held liable? Pursuing a civil judgment against the parents seems like a good strategy to stop this kind of attack. If they live in the neighborhood and are rowhouse owners then the house could be sold at auction to satisfy the judgement. Maybe someone could start a nonprofit to fund those sorts of suits.

    • “sold at auction to satisfy the judgement.”
      .
      I don’t think most judgments would be that big. Assume you have $1000 in medical bills and miss a few days of work, you might get a judgment of $3-5k. Try getting a DC jury to give a middle class victim $100k that requires a low income defendant to sell their home. Good luck.

      • Not for this guy, but what about the guy on the metro who got beaten unconscious? A number of the beatings in Shaw have been equally as vicious. Once you take into account hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. compensatory damages could easily hit 500k. And in cases like this where the violence was essentially for amusement punitive damages are definitely possible. Even in small cases like this I think you could hit 100k pretty easily.
        .
        The lawsuit against Chris Brown for a single punch asked for over 1M. http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/09/03/chris-brown-pleads-guilty-d-c-assault-case/

      • The DC victims compensation fund should help cover some of the cost.
        http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/superior/crimevictim/main.jsf
        .
        Anyone have experience with it? What are the size of the payouts?

        • The point would be the punitive effect on the perp and their family, not compensation of the victim.

        • Also, those numbers there are a joke. Lost wages are compensated up to 10k? It’s nice that exists but doesn’t come close to what you’d get from a civil suit.

        • The Victims Compensation Fund paid for my hospital visit after I was beaten and my purse was stolen (at 9th & Kansas NW) after I wrote a dozen letters, cried on the phone, and was threatened with collection by Howard University after leaving dozens of unreturned phone messages. They did not pay for lost wages.

    • As far as I know, there are no laws in DC which specifically hold parents liable for actions of their minor children. But you could file an action against the parents for negligence, arguing that the parents’ failure to supervise their child resulted in the child acting in a way that caused harm. I think the primary value of this kind of suit, if any, would be to send a message that the consequences of these kinds of actions will extend beyond the kid – i.e., your son or daughter may not be arrested, but they may end up costing you a ton of money in a civil case. There is not much likelihood of collecting anything. But perhaps those parents who don’t know or care what their kids are doing might become a bit more interested since not knowing or caring could end up being very expensive.

      • Precisely. Even if you don’t win if you cost the patents 20k in legal fees everyone wins. I would support a non profit dedicated to pursuing these kinds of suits.

  • So on board for this.

  • I was verbally attacked by a group of white teens (male and female), in downtown Chinatown in daylight, while walking to the metro at the end of a work day. They surrounded me and made lewd comments and made pig sounds and other noises until I finally go to the metro entrance and descended the escalator. It was horrible and I felt very unsafe.

    Just wanted to point out that this behavior isn’t necessarily racially charged, but is more likely aggressive and egomaniac youth pack mentality.

    • Your head is in the sand if you deny that there’s a racial component to most of these attacks.

      • There may or may not be a specific racial component to any of these attacks. A group of black teenagers is beating on another black teenager. A non-black adult steps in to help the teenager who is being beaten and ends up getting attacked. Was it a racial attack when it was a black kid being attacked by other black kids? Or only when the non-black person got attacked?

    • I think it’s fair to say your experience is far outnumbered by those involving groups of black teens.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Not to overstate the obvious, but in DC, especially east of Rock Creek Park, black teens outnumber white teens probably 10:1 or more (yes, there are families with small children all over the city, and I do know a non-zero number of white teens who live east of the park, but in all seriousness, what percentage of boys ages 13-17 who live in DC east of Rock Creek Park are white? You’d practically have to have half of all of the white boys east of the park traveling together in a single group in order to even assemble a group of 6 white teenagers without importing them from other jurisdictions.

  • Did this person call the police?

  • I think we make a mistake if we see a group of teens walking toward us and “don’t give it much thought.” We should assess the situation, pay attention to what they’re wearing, how they’re acting, and cross the street if it feels uncomfortable. As they get closer, pay attention to what might happen next. Do they look friendly – then smile and say, “hey”. Do they look like they’re looking for trouble – then let them know you”re paying attention. Being alert will deter sucker punches – it lets them know you’re not going to be an easy mark. Situational awareness is very important.

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