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“I would say it was anger and racist rage from a cowardly anti-social individual who was getting his jollies off verbally assaulting random people”

by Prince Of Petworth November 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm 182 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

Street Altercation in Penn Quarter

On Sunday afternoon on the 600 block of E Street NW I heard yelling of obscenities from a few hundred feet back. I was unsure what was going on and kept walking. The yelling stopped but a few moments later it resumed and sounded much closer. I turned around again and realized it was a mid 20’s black male on a bike hurling verbal abuse at a white couple. It was now clear to me that he was the source of the initial yelling and was biking on the sidewalk from group to group getting very close to people and violating them verbally. He called the woman in the white couple the c-word and said he would rape her. I knew he’d bike over to me next. Sure enough he did. I decided I wasn’t going to just silently take it. As he berated me I called him a b*tch, a coward, unleashed some f-bombs, and said I would beat his ass. He began to biked off and I kicked tire real hard. He continued to pedal away furiously but his anger over his bullying being dished back made him eventually circle back to start following me.

At this point I was on a very busy sidewalk on 7th street in front of Carmines. I was ignoring his constant stream of “You F’d up. I’m gonna get you” verbal vomiting. I decided to walk between the tree boxes and the parked cars so he would not be able to bike directly behind me and cheap shot me. As I was walking I noticed a 3/4 full cup of some kind of iced coffee sitting on the sidewalk. I picked up figuring I needed something to stun him if he attempted to get violent. I crossed 7th street and as he followed I kind of got boxed in in front the Protein Bar. I saw he had a metal U-lock in his hand and intended to use it as a weapon. He remained on the bike and flailed at me with the U-lock twice. While he didn’t come within 18 inches of hitting me with his pathetic flails I clearly needed to get out of this situation. I threw the iced coffee in his face and then sprinted down the block and around the corner into a bar to have a beer. I looked back over my shoulder a few times while I was fleeing and luckily he did not follow me.

While I didn’t want to merely ignore the street harrasment like I had done dozens of times before I recognize I didn’t handle this well. I needlessly put myself at risk. I escalated rather than diffusing the situation. In hindsight I should have remained calm, filmed him with my phone and told him I’d call 911. Still, the coffee on his face was a little priceless.

This was not a disheveled looking unstable homeless person. He was clean shaven. Had a nicer and newer winter jacket on than I had. This was not mental illness triggered. I would say it was anger and racist rage from a cowardly anti-social individual who was getting his jollies off verbally assaulting random people.”

Comments (182)

  1. Oh man, the comments on this are going to be amazing.

  2. I am leaving this page open and hitting refresh so I can read them all.

  3. I thought the exact same thing! Blessed!

  4. There’s a guy in Columbia Heights who meets this exact description. Rides a bike, clean cut, verbally assaults people seemingly at random. Usually, he is biking around 13th and Fairmont.

    He DOES indeed have a mental illness, despite your best guess here. But you were right about one thing: You handled the situation very poorly.

  5. How do you know he has a mental illness?

  6. His family members told neighbors who told neighbors, and so forth. It was well-known.

  7. It is known.

  8. You know nothing.

  9. Glad we’re sure its the same guy.

  10. I don’t think this is the same guy. I’ve lived in the neighborhood most of my life and this guy is crazy and scary, but he’s not stupid or violent. By that, I mean, he knows who to bother and who not to bother because he shies away from confrontation, and in all the many, many years I’ve been around him, I have not heard him threaten rape or call anyone the c word. I have never engaged him and I learned eventually that he’s all talk. I guess it’s possible he’s done worse to others when I’m not around, but whenever I have seen anyone step to him, he slowly bikes or dances away saying things like “don’t hate the player, hate the game,” and other nonsense. He’s definitely not up for a real confrontation, in my experience. Not that it’s not scary, but this does not sound like the same guy at all.

  11. Mentally unstable people don’t always look dirty and disheveled. If this guy was going from group to group yelling obscenities out of the blue, that sounds pretty mentally unstable to me. He could have just gotten cleaned up at a homeless shelter or maybe he does have a home or family to care for him.

  12. Ditto. Work in a library and this professionally dressed and coiffed woman was asking questions. The longer we interacted the more I realized she wasn’t all there. Then she stated talking to someone who was not standing next to her. Don’t assume all mentally ill people look like the stereotype says mentally ill people look.

  13. This is true. I once dated a woman who suffered from bipolar disorder (unfortunately for me I didn’t find this out until much later) who would go from completely normal to frighteningly and sometimes dangerously crazy in an instant.

  14. No one can really blame you for feeling pissed at the insult-hurler, but clearly, you are putting yourself at risk by deciding to challenge this guy. Also, you can’t take things personally from crazies–the guy insulting you clearly has some serious problems, so the best you can do is hope he gets help.

  15. You are lucky to be unharmed

  16. I read this as “You are lucky to be unarmed”

  17. Look I’m sure, we’ll get a number of people saying this was the wrong thing to do (he could have had weapon, something bad could have happened, etc), but I have to say I’m glad the jerk got some just desserts for his actions and maybe, just maybe, somewhere in the recesses of his mind the next time the prospect of cursing and threatening at passerby for no reason will not seem as consequence free as he would have thought.

  18. Nah dude. It won’t. That’s not how mental illness works, at all.

  19. I’m guessing all it did was further cement his opinions about the people he was insulting. Escalating it physically probably wasn’t the best approach. Frankly, I’m not sure there is a best approach for dealing with someone like that.

  20. Best approach?
    Step 1 – Call the police (911). Especially once he threatens to do something. Insist on pressing charges at least to get him arrested.
    Step 2 – Lobby the government to have the right mechanism in place to take mentally unstable people for treatment rather than jail. I don’t actually know how well DC does this, if at all.

  21. My attempts to call the police on serious harassers have not been successful. I was grabbed once and the cops told me I needed to stay on the scene until they arrived- they estimated that they would take half an hour. The kid left the area by the time they arrived. They promised to look for him, but nothing ever came out of it. But yeah, in theory, that’s one option.

  22. Sorry you didn’t have a good response from MPD. I’ve had good response being clear about what is going on. Be specific because shouting racial obscenities is not illegal and won’t be high on MPD’s priority list
    -The person is threatening violence (“I’m going to rape you” from this case or “I’ll beat you”, etc.)
    -I think the person is going to start hitting people (if you truly believe that).

    If MPD doesn’t respond well, you can and should run it up the chain of command, and publicly. For the sake of the next person in that situation.

  23. I was very clear to the police that I’d just been sexually assaulted. They still thought it was fine to leave me alone, on the scene for 35+ minutes. I did follow-up with them afterwards, but I guess it didn’t occur to me to make it more public. I’ve had mostly good interactions with DCPD on the whole and assumed it was just a busy day. They did eventually catch the guy- it was the same guy who grabbed lots of other women in the Dupont area. Not to deter anyone from calling the police- you absolutely should and in many instances you’ll get a quicker response- but it isn’t always going to solve the problem immediately.

  24. Me too.

    Was it the right way to deal with the situation, no. No it was not. Will it have any effect on the person – no, I don’t believe it will.

    But harassment sucks and sometimes, it feels good to give it back. And mentally unstable people who harass others get very little sympathy from me. One can hope they get help, but one can also get damn tired of dealing with crazy individuals and their attacks on others.

  25. Agreed. I’m harassed frequently and it gets really old. But, you better have a really solid plan of action if your response to harassment is to make physical contact with the harasser. She’s very, very lucky that this didn’t end differently.

  26. Clearly, you are a professional who can determine if someone is mentally ill…what are you even doing walking around the city like this or even posting this? Next time you may not be so lucky, whether it was mental illness, racism or some other reason, keep your mouth closed and keep walking…you may not be so lucky next time and frankly in my “professional” opinion, you are an idiot.

  27. Crotchety Old Person

    “This was not mental illness triggered.”
    .
    Unless you left out very specific information about yourself, you are in no way qualified to make that assertion. As for the rest of it, people need to decide for themselves what the “right” course of action is in a situation like this. But I think this tale does illustrate that there is a fine line between standing up for yourself and escalating a situation into something more dangerous.

  28. Couple of things:
    1. Because he looked clean he clearly was not mentally ill? False assumption, I am related to mentally unstable folks who are very clean, as a matter of fact their mental illness require them to be spot free at all times.
    2. “cowardly anti-social individual who was getting his jollies off verbally assaulting random people” – Do not venture into crowds because they are anti-SOCIAL and COWARDS (generally are not the perpertrators of such crimes because they are COWARDS), they don’t cause scenes because they are ANTI-SOCIAL (Don’t want the attention).
    I believe you came across either an escapee from the Psychiatric Institute of Washington/other mental ward, OR one of the new types of zombies you see they thrive off of gas station weed (Snoopy snacks, K-2, it is really incense but they smoke it)
    Regular thugs would not waste their time, especially riding a bike (9 out of 10 it was stolen). IJS…

  29. Look, I’m the OP, and we can disagree on much of went down. But the dude was clearly a COWARD. The way he did the harassing from the perceived safety of his bike. He wanted to be able to flee at a moments notice. Even when he flailed at me with the U-lock it was clear he intended to remain on the bike at all costs so no one would be able to detain him if he hit me. He’s a coward. I was there and read his eyes and body language. While I did cross the line I think I understand what went down and what his intentions were better than an internet armchair qb.

    I reject the notion that he was mentally ill. When people molest children, abuse women, etc do we automatically say they are mentally ill. Of course not. I don’t why you are all so quick to categorize unprovoked verbal abuse as being a symptom of mental illness and thereby absolve the individual of responsibility. Dude was racist…

  30. Okay, OP, you were there, and we weren’t. But you wrote a rather long account, and the only conclusion that we draw is that he was indeed mentally ill. Racist ranting is a manifestation.

    It is quite hard in this society to force help for an independent adult who doesn’t want mental health treatment, even if they are out of their gourd. I can’t see you accomplished anything at all, and hope that the next person he attacks can run as fast as you.

  31. You absolutely can’t say that this individual was mentally ill from this account. You can challenge OP’s assertion that he was NOT mentally ill (and I agree, there’s no way to make that determination). But saying that he is mentally ill is even less well-founded than OP’s determination, because you’re diagnosing someone based on an anonymous internet posting.

  32. I can’t draw my own conclusion based on limited info? Why not? That’s what you have to do in life. I mean, it could be a medication side effect, or a tumor, as well, I suppose. I’d be willing to revise the assessment with more info, of course. But, the idea that it is just a clear thinking racist is absurd, based on the available info.

  33. +1 It’s all circumstantial. Could be racist, could be mentally ill, none of us here know.

  34. “I can’t draw my own conclusion based on limited info?”
    .
    So OP, who was there and observed the individual, can’t possible draw conclusions about his mental health, but you, who were not there and only have her posting to go by, can? Gottcha.

  35. I don’t think you can complain about “internet armchair qb”ing when you posted this account on the internet seeking response.

  36. 1. (as many others have rightfully pointed out) you can’t know that he isn’t mentally ill. his behavior certainly suggests he could be. 2. why did you submit this story- as a warning to others about this individual? as a warning not to do what you did? it seems a bit attention seeking.

  37. Really not a smart move to engage someone clearly unstable….. lucky you weren’t hurt

  38. 1. Just because the guy looks OK doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a mental illness. His behavior in this case indicates otherwise.

    2. There’s no need to engage the person. If they are not bothering you, but are bothering others, call the police. Don’t tell the person you’re going to call 911 while filming them, just call the police.

    3. If you find yourself in a situation like this, get out of it to somewhere safe and then CALL THE POLICE.

    This really isn’t that hard.

  39. Sounds like you mirrored the behavior/actions of the biker. Similar anger and racist rage, maybe?

  40. Similar? Person one: randomly assaults innocent passersby in a vile and hateful way. Person two: tires of being randomly assaulted in a vile and hateful way, and challenges assailant.

    There is a BIG difference.

  41. How do you know that person one wasn’t tired of being randomly assaulted, perhaps by police, and considered his actions to be a challenge to the system that hatefully and systematically oppressed him? It’s only different from a position of privilege. You have the privilege of NOT being systematically abused.
    .
    Anyway, that’s really more a devil’s advocate position. Because it is clear to me from my extensive experience and the description that the kid on the bike was in the throes of a psychotic break. It might have been his first. Kind of textbook.

  42. Even in your far fetched example there’s still a big difference between directing your rage as those responsible or those you “sense” to be part of some grand oppressive scheme.

  43. I’m no psychologist, but in my experience, it is never a good idea to confront an angry crazy person.

  44. OP: you are just making things worse by reacting like that. You’re spreading anger and antipathy and confirming the notion that this guy has that you (or people like you) are his enemy. Also, based on your description YOU are the one injecting race into this interaction – you don’t mention this guy making any race-based comments, but you are quick to point out that he’s black. And this sort of harassment has happened to you dozens of times? If so, you’re having a VERY different experience living in this city than I am (late 20s, white professional).

  45. Ride certain bus lines to work and it happens at least a few times a month that you’ll be subject to a racist rant from somebody. Granted more often than not those are clearly crazy people. I could tell in this case it was more of a misanthrope, misogynist and racist. I’m not completely tone deaf. And yes, while I can’t tell you verbatim every word that this creep was screaming as I was boiling over there were racial charged things coming out of his mouth.

    Lastly, I kicked his tire but it’s not like I chased him down to do so. He cut me off on the sidewalk using his bike as a barrier. We got into it verbally and as he was beginning to pedal off I did kick the tire in frustration. But he was still in my personal space at that very moment and he had just acted very hostile and threatening towards me.

  46. I hope they give you a medal.

    Next time, PLEASE call the cops though!

  47. NE Res, I simply assumed he was making race based comments. It’s not hard to imagine – with all the crazies at the Metros screaming about the white man stealing all the money – there’s a number of ‘vocal’ racists in D.C.. Did you want OP to repeat exactly what the guy said? I’d rather not read that. And yeah, she pointed out his skin color and his age and how he looked – providing a complete picture for the rest of us young women who might be verbally assaulted in the future.

  48. Dr. Letter Writer should go get some continuing education on mental illness. My mentally ill family member is always clean and well-groomed… he can’t leave the house unless he’s gone through his routine. And he goes to work, where he excels, and no one knows about his troubles. HOWEVER, if someone were to threaten him in a triggering way, I can absolutely see him losing the control that he almost always maintains. (He has never hurt anyone, but he gets pretty screamy and irrational, especially if the negative stimulus continues.) By throwing a coffee in that kid’s face, you probably set him up for a much worse reaction than he was already having. But hey, nice job standing up for yourself.

  49. OK, I think the OP handled this poorly (especially the kicking the tire bit). But the coffee came after the dude was swinging a U-lock at him/her. I’m hard-pressed to consider that an overreaction.
    And, “By throwing a coffee in that kid’s face, you probably set him up for a much worse reaction than he was already having.”? Really? The chief concern with an aggressive, violent, potentiually mentally ill person is making sure we don’t react in such a way that the assailant may have a worse reaction? Yes, we shoudl be compassionale, but that’s ridiculous.

  50. The coffee also came after the OP saw the kid’s behavior and had the opportunity to avoid it, and as you’ve noted, after kicking the tire of the bike. So the Ulock swinging was a likely reaction to the OP’s behavior — who moved things from verbal to aggressively physical. (Yes, approaching someone sitting on a bike and kicking it is both aggressive and physical). That behavior clearly escalated the situation. I’m also curious about the OP’s assertion that they “knew he’d bike over to me next. Sure enough, he did.” The OP’s apparent “knowledge” can be interpreted in a variety of ways, including provocatively. There are multiple parts to supporting a very different reaction from the OP’s: one is compassion. Another is trying to avoid escalating the situation — which might have very troubling repercussions, including to the next person that the kid on the bike encounters.

  51. So you physical assaulted someone by kicking his bike which could of led to him falling into traffic or hitting his head causing a serious injury just because of words? Oh ok. Hope you feel like a Champ!

  52. I’m pretty sure the OP said the guy swung a u-lock at him first.

  53. Nope the tire-kicking was after the U-lock-swinging.

  54. I think you meant to say before. The tire kicking was before the U-lock swinging. The OP was the one who escalated the situation into a physical one.

  55. Ya, it really seems like the OP was the agressor? What’s wrong with you?

  56. Eh, at least he wouldn’t be bothering anyone again!

  57. Actually, the most irritating part of your behavior is that you provoked him into actually assaulting you and then you didn’t even bother to have him arrested for it so he could, either get the help he needs, or at least be removed from the street so someone else who comes along is not the victim of his rage. Let’s hope we don’t read about how some individual was brutally beaten with a U-lock and then know you could have stopped that from happening by actually showing some responsibility and calling the police.

    There is a guy who plays the saxophone on the corner of 11th and E NW who often stops playing long enough to yell racially motivated obscenities at white people who pass him. He does it all the time. It’s totally strange.

  58. You think if he stuck around after tossing coffee in the guys face the situation was just going to settle down into a nice peaceful pause until the police arrived. That’s incredibly naive. Either it would have resulted in a tussle between the two or a mini street riot.

  59. If the person was indeed mentally ill, this was perhaps a wrong approach. Though, I’m not sure I understand why a person is expected to ignore it and it’s not as though OP shot the guy.
    .
    And there is a risk factor that can’t be ignored.
    .
    On the other hand, yuppies are preyed on because predators (if that’s not too strong a word in most instances) consider it to be risk-free. If we continue to send the message that no harm will come to those who harass or harm us simply because they’re violent, antisocial and racist, some of them will keep doing it. Actions have consequences. So does inaction.

  60. +100 good on you OP. It is easy for most commenters to give you the academic version of what is mentally ill and talk down to you but they were not being assaulted. I hope the biking racist gets help but it’s time to show that it’s not a one way predatory street.

  61. Whether the guy was mentally ill or not, the OP responded aggressively by insulting him, cursing at him, and threatening him with bodily harm. Then the *OP* escalated the altercation into a physical one. It’s not “academic” or “talking down.” The OP’s behavior was completely inappropriate.
    .
    I don’t even want to know what is meant by “it’s time to show that it’s not a one way predatory street.”

  62. So in your view, the OP was the aggressor in this situation? Unbelievable.

  63. That isn’t remotely what I said.

  64. Your post started by listing all the things that, in your view, the OP did wrong – “OP responded aggressively” and “threatening bodily harm”, OP “escalated the altercation.” And “OP’s behavior was completely inappropriate.”
    .
    Seems pretty clear that you think the OP was the one at fault here. But please, correct me – where do you point out that the guy on the bike was the aggressor, and responsible for the altercation.

  65. I did not point out that the guy on the bike was the aggressor because:
    .
    1) it’s beyond obvious that the guy on the bike was the original aggressor (note I was talking about the OP’s *response*), and

    2) in this particular post, I happened to be discussing what *OP* did wrong, in response a prior comment saying “good on you OP.” I wasn’t discussing all aspects of this incident with a dissertation on all levels of responsibility by all actors.
    .
    It’s also beyond obvious that the guy on the bike’s conduct was awful and appalling (and possibly unhinged). Please don’t confuse a criticism of OPs response to excusing horrible behavior.

  66. Yeah, I’m having a hard time getting too worked up about OP’s actions here either. And to all who are commenting that OP is the one who escalated the confrontation to a physical one, OP reported that “was biking on the sidewalk from group to group getting very close to people and violating them verbally. He called the woman in the white couple the c-word and said he would rape her.” You simply can’t call the OP the aggressor in the face of that behavior, tire-kicking or not.

  67. Seems like half of Popville needs a City Living 101 seminar. This kind of stuff happens all the time in NYC and no one bats and eye. Unless somebody is in physical danger, just walk away tough guy (girl?).

  68. thanks for that important I’m from New York City and we do things the right way message. that said, I can assure you there are a sufficient number of mentally ill people roaming the DC streets that most people who live here are well aware of how to handle this situation

  69. “I can assure you there are a sufficient number of mentally ill people roaming the DC “… or driving DC cabs.

  70. … or posting on DC listservs.

  71. Hahahahahaha. Add “dealing with crazy people” to the list of ways that NYC is SOOOOOO much better than DC.

  72. (it’s the water)!

  73. Because of course anything about NYC is always better than DC

  74. I was just thinking about how when I take the bus, more often than not, I end up next to a mentally ill person who is doing or saying something disturbing and/or threatening. Even if it’s directed at me, I simply don’t engage with them and nothing ever happens. It’s not like you can talk sense into these people.

  75. Doesn’t sound like you take the bus very often.

  76. Not every day, but several times a week. Usually the 90 buses. Why?

  77. The D6 has multiple every day, due to stopping right at the shelter.

  78. Is City Living 101 available via webinar or do I need to schlep up to New York for it? If schlepping, can I schedule it around Bagel Eating 101?

  79. I’ll add Restaurant Concepts 101 to the curriculum

  80. Sounds to me like NYC sucks then.

  81. Yep, that was my take-away, too.

  82. Can I just say you did what I wish more people would do!

  83. A lot of Travis Bickle fantasies here. Someone could have been hurt. Call the police. Don’t escalate crazy situations.

  84. Sounds like the driver of the Acura SUV from in front of Carmine’s the night before. He honked for maybe 3 minutes straight before blocking all traffic to scream at a valet for a few minutes. Everything from calling him racist (coming from a black guy directed at a Hispanic guy…) to promising him that he made more money. If that valet hadn’t been so cool I think that would have escalated into blows.

  85. Don’t care what anyone says:
    +1 for the ice coffee toss

  86. Why is no one decrying the crap-**s LITTERER who tossed their mostly full ice coffee cup on the sidewalk???

  87. Not part of the relevancy of the posting and you’d probably be called racist if you made an assumption (based on overwhelming evidence, of course) of who put it there.

  88. Well my goodness. I had no idea until I read these comments that there were so many fine citizens of Washington who embody the astute psychological insights of Sigmund Freud, the broad humanitarianism of Albert Schweitzer and the unlimited compassion of Jesus Christ. We mere mortals, flawed individuals who sometimes over-react to having random strangers chase and verbally assault us on city sidewalks, stand in awe of your unceasing patience and limitless knowledge.

  89. Well, thank you!

  90. I like you, Anonymous 2:14.

  91. Except that most the comments are actually responses to OP’s assertion that this individual was definitively *not* mentally ill. But you got plenty of props for beating a straw man.
    .
    It does not take “unceasing patience and limitless knowledge” to consider not escalating a bad situation and calling the cops instead. Nor is omniscience necessary to consider the possibility that a person acting in an unhinged manner in public *might* have mental health issues.

  92. I don’t give a *$*^ about Your jesus. Harassment is harassment and it is absolutely unacceptable. Would I personally have done the same actions as OP? Most likely not – but I have nothing against what she said.

  93. Yep. Guy certainly seemed angry, according to your story. Might have been a racist too. Sounds like he’s one, anyway. Could also have antisocial personality disorder, but that’s a specific mental illness that no one here (yourself included) can diagnose given the information we have. What’s obvious (to me, anyway) is that the guy just isn’t functioning at 100% mental health. People without serious issues just don’t act like that, no matter how racist and generally ticked off they might be in general. They might grumble and piss and moan to their friends and family, but they don’t accost strangers unless there’s something way out of balance. And I’m usually not one to back down from an argument (or — from time to time — a fight when I feel that I or someone else needs defending), but I would have given this guy a much wider berth. As you wrote, he was pedaling away when you kicked his tire. Had you not done so, it would have been over.

  94. +1,000,000!

  95. If someone is actively harassing people on the street, I don’t really care if it’s because they are clinically an asshole, or their life experienced turned them into an asshole. That part can be sorted out in a psych ward or in jail. They should be off the streets either way.

    The OP certainly put herself into danger, but I understand her frustration and her actions. I would have had her back, instead of lecturing her on being sympathetic to the mentally ill, or validating this PoS’s perspective.

    Glad the OP is okay, and I’m sorry she had to endure that kind of harassment.

  96. She? Did I miss something in the post? Maybe my own biases are showing, but I was totally picturing OP as a guy. Perhaps it’s because a male friend of mine once described having a weird fantasy about having this type of altercation with homeless people.

  97. Nope, your biases are showing. But nice try.

  98. Glass with ice, nosy- she

  99. You were extremely lucky. You could have been left to engage this madman with nothing more than a 7-11 hot dog box, a chicken bone, or a quarter pounder (w/cheese) carton. I shudder to think of what might have happened had that iced coffee not been handy.

  100. Not sure if you have our number: 9-1-1.

    We get paid to handle possible mentally ill, possibly cowardly, possibly racist individuals. While you were inside drinking your beer after throwing the coffee at him, he could have moved on to other people. Next time, call 9-1-1 and give your name and number so we can talk to you. It will only take a few minutes. I promise.

  101. Thanks for the patronizing reply, Anonymous MPD. Now hands up, anyone, if you think the MPD could be trusted to a) respond in a timely fashion, or b) even take a call of street harassment seriously? Too much evidence on this blog and in real life tells me it’s barely worth your time (see above example from poster who said MPD would be around in 30 minutes- yeah, good luck with that). If you were part of a stellar, interested, and pro-active organization, your patronizing tone wouldn’t sound half as ridiculous as it does.

  102. You’re a d$*#, there are MPD that keep us safe and put their lives in danger. It may not always be the best but your comment is insulting and naive

  103. I recently called 911 because a car was parked in a bike lane and the driver refused to move. While I was on the phone with the operator the driver started to back up–directly into where I was sitting on my bike. Because I started screaming at him the operator called it in as an aggravated assault and no fewer than 6 MPD vehicles showed up in a minute’s time. And I was in no more central a location than Penn Quarter I can assure you.

    In the many years I’ve been in DC I have called the police many, many times (previously 311 and 911 and now 911 exclusively) and with few exceptions I have been pleased with the rapid response. Any time violence of any kind was threatened or transpired they showed up faster than I anticipated to be honest. I called in a mugging that I witnessed a few years ago and they were there in 2 minutes. I somehow doubt that the operator would tell you to wait 30 minutes if someone was threatening you with a u lock.

  104. Agreed. When the dispatch indicates that someone’s health /well being is in jeopardy, you get a fast response. (also…did the car have MD tags?..couldn’t resist)

  105. Not sure if you’re the OP, and sorry if it seemed patronizing, but explain how this story helped anything. I’m going to assume you’re the OP and craft my response thusly.

    You were walking down the street and there was a guy acting irrationally. So you decided that you were going to confront him which you did and then you got into an altercation with him swinging his u-lock and you throwing an iced coffee at him. That settled, you went to the bar for a much needed libation. Fin.

    So what? What’s the point of this story? If this guy is mentally ill, then he’s not getting any assistance. If he’s a totally sane racist who enjoys screaming at white people, then he’s not going to get locked up unless you file a police report. You have to say you were in fear, otherwise this is free speech. Tell me how your approach solved anything. Seriously.

  106. I went up to an officer after being harassed by a person on the street. It happened while I was on my bike, in the bike lane on the street, stopped at a red light. The person on the sidewalk didn’t like that the light on my helmet had shined on him. I didn’t do it on purpose and any rational person would have known this. I didn’t even see him and the light most likely hit him while I was looking over my shoulder for traffic behind me. I have a mentally ill relative and this man’s rantings reminded me of said relative’s rantings. I didn’t do anything but look forward (after I realized that the light shining on him was the problem). I didn’t engage him because he was yelling obscenities at me and I didn’t think anything good would come of it. I sat there waiting for the light to change ( I had no room to maneuver away from where I was) and he got angrier and angrier. As the light changed I saw some movement from the corner of my eye. At first I thought he was coming at me, possibly to push me off the bike. Instead threw an empty McDonald’s box at me. It landed in front of the bike right as I was about to push off. I stopped short, because I didn’t know what fell in front of my bike at first. I was really lucky that the driver behind me was paying attention, otherwise I would have been rear ended.
    At any rate, I didn’t want to stop to call the cops. I was not far from my destination, where I knew there would be an officer anyhow. I found one and she was amazing. She helped me calm down and then called in the description of the man who had attacked me (I got a very good look at him after he threw the box at me.) She told me I did the right thing and never made me feel as though telling her what had happened was the wrong thing to do.
    So, Anonymous 2:47… take that as evidence on this blog that, yes it is absolutely worth reporting street harassment to the police. I was very lucky and was able to leave relatively unscathed. I reported my attacker to prevent further attacks.
    Big props to the cops.

  107. You do realize people like to complain and bad news and stories of cops not doing things right sells and no one is publishing stories every time the cops do something right? Also you are probably going to get Ebola.

  108. Is no one going to mention the complete disregard of the “no bicycle on sidewalk below Mass ave” rule? That alone deserved the ice coffee in the face!

    I’m going to say, OP didn’t NOT react in the best way, he/she was NOT justified in acting that way….HOWEVER, I can totally understand losing your cool…………but I’d also understand (expect) that OP would come out of the situation injured.

    Bottom line: I don’t feel bad for the (maybe) crazy asshole, but I wouldn’t feel bad for OP if he/she did, indeed, get injured.

  109. No one will mention biking on the sidewalk?? You should have opened with that one.

  110. I don’t know why everyone here is assuming the guy is mentally ill rather than a huge jerk.

  111. Not assuming that he wasn’t mentally, not assuming that he was just a jerk. Point being – you never know what you are getting yourself into when you do stupid crap like this.

  112. Crotchety Old Person

    Probably a reaction to OP’s assumption that that the guy is a huge jerk rather than mentally ill. And hey, it could be both.

  113. I would say 9 out of 10 times in Washington DC that type of reaction will get you killed. Not saying that he didn’t deserve it, but i’d wager that you never lived in DC in the 90s.

  114. While I agree that the OP could probably have handled it better (and phrased her account of it better,) I can’t completely condemn what she did. Having to deal with harassment from random men just for stepping out the door every morning is exhausting and depressing. Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back that day. I’m glad the OP is safe and wish that dealing with harassment wasn’t such an expected and accepted part of city living.

  115. Mental Health Professional

    Racist? — Dunno. You’ve cleverly noted the races of everyone involved — except yourself, perhaps assuming that your own race is somehow the default here. Since I’d bet that you’d have quoted any racist rantings on the part of the cyclist, I’m wondering more about your own racist assumptions and your willingness to act on them then his. I wonder, for example, if the cyclist had been white, would you have been more likely to assume that he was mentally ill, and less likely to aggressively fling a brown beverage on someone that, up until this point, had only used words.
    – Anger? surely. But you seem to have quite a bit of rage yourself. And you acted yours out. And seem to want something — support? Applause? — from Popville because of it.
    — Jollies? Again, there’s no indication from your description that the guy on the bike is getting anything positive out of his rants. There are, however, suggestions that you’re getting a few both from your comments, and from your original post.
    — As many, many others have stated, your take on recognizing and diagnosing mental illness is seriously flawed, as was/is your response to it.
    — I’m honestly concerned about your potential rage and your potential racism — since it sounds like you found an opportunity to unleash a lot of your own issues. As many, many others have pointed out, BEFORE the cyclist approached you, you could have called 911 — and possibly gotten him some intervention; made the streets safer for everyone; and avoided a nasty situation which you clearly escalated.

  116. I’m going to give the OP the benefit of the doubt here with regard to the racist remarks of the cyclist. I know that if I were retelling the story, I might not want to rewrite verbatim the disgusting remarks he was making at the first couple. The fact that she pointed it out probably has more to do with his rantings than it does with the OP.

    Secondly, it sounds like she gave him some help. She shouldn’t be forced to use kid gloves to defend herself from someone (white or black) who swung a u-lock at her and threatened to rape her. He should count his lucky stars that it was just iced coffee.

  117. Victim blaming. I thought in 2014 we were moving past this pathos

  118. Nope. Unless “victim blaming” means something different from what I think it does. The OP could have avoided this situation, and avoided escalating the situation at multiple points: first, possibly, before being approached by the guy and second when the guy was biking away. As to the U-lock swinging, it came after the tire kicking — which, again, occurred when the guy was pedaling away furiously. If it’s “victim blaming” to point out that when someone is furiously going AWAY from you, and you do something aggressive, and that aggressive action re-engages the person who was going AWAY from the situation, well, so be it.

  119. It makes me sad if you are truly a mental health professional.

  120. Mental Health Professional

    Racist? — Dunno. You’ve cleverly noted the races of everyone involved — except yourself, perhaps assuming that your own race is somehow the default here. Since I’d bet that you’d have quoted any racist rantings on the part of the cyclist, I’m wondering more about your own racist assumptions and your willingness to act on them then his. I wonder, for example, if the cyclist had been white, would you have been more likely to assume that he was mentally ill, and less likely to aggressively fling a brown beverage on someone that, up until this point, had only used words.
    – Anger? surely. But you seem to have quite a bit of rage yourself. And you acted yours out. And seem to want something — support? Applause? — from Popville because of it.
    — Jollies? Again, there’s no indication from your description that the guy on the bike is getting anything positive out of his rants. There are, however, suggestions that you’re getting a few both from your comments, and from your original post.
    — As many, many others have stated, your take on recognizing and diagnosing mental illness is seriously flawed, as was/is your response to it.
    — I’m honestly concerned about your potential rage and your potential racism — since it sounds like you found an opportunity to unleash a lot of your own issues. As many, many others have pointed out, BEFORE the cyclist approached you, you could have called 911 — and possibly gotten him some intervention; made the streets safer for everyone; and avoided a nasty situation which you clearly escalated.

  121. I was wondering about the assumption that the guy was racist too. I was once waiting at the bus stop with a friend who is gay, when a disheveled looking man began hurling homophobic insults at us. We were both quite upset, but there wasn’t time to walk to a different stop. Then, as other people started walking by, we noticed that the guy would shout the exact same insults at everyone: women, men, couples, kids, didn’t matter. His repertoire is quite limited. I actually saw him a few weeks later in a different location, and sure enough, same routine. When someone is that angry and unpredictable, you just never know what’s going on in their head.

  122. Why do we know the OP is female? Maybe I missed that.

  123. What’s with people not calling the police? Is it a Millennial thing?

  124. I think a lot of us have been burned once or twice.

  125. hey no need to blame the millenials

  126. Millennials are the worst though

  127. best comment.

  128. Like a lot of people who have lived here for a long time, I’ve had a mix of police responses. But there is a certain strain of popville commenter that likes to pretend that nothing ever comes of calling the police. That’s ridiculous and often a canard to justify whatever-response-in-the-thread-of-the-moment.

  129. Ok – at what point do we just say “this guy was a dickhead” and leave it at that?

  130. Crotchety Old Person

    The moment for that was probably right before “I decided I wasn’t going to just silently take it”, so we’re well past that now.

  131. Turn the other cheek.

  132. Did you not read the parts where almost every person who has posted here has said: CALL THE POLICE?

  133. Actually, I’ve lived here for over 50 years. But thanks for the welcome. I’m sure you were sincere.

  134. Did the guy have cornrows and was he riding a “Specialized” brand bike? If he was, it was the same guy (it seems unlikely there are two in that area of town) I had the pleasure of running into about 6 weeks ago.

    GF and I came out of the District Chophouse after dinner and he rode by us cursing us out at the top of his lungs, screaming all sorts of “awesome” things. We didn’t react to him.

    He rode by, turned around and started following us, verbally screaming things at my girlfriend I’ve only seen in some crazy S&M internet flicks. Again, we simply ignore him, which apparently upsets him. He rides up on my girlfriends side screaming and slaps her on the back of the head, which is the point where I had enough. I reached up, grabbed his arm and pulled him off his bike and onto the ground, placed my knee in his neck to hold him there and called the police. Being Chinatown, one wasn’t far away. Other than him suffering a little road rash from hitting the sidewalk and a really sore neck, he was no worse for the wear but it appears he is up to his old tricks again despite being arrested for it. There were obviously plenty of witnesses.

    I didn’t get the impression he was “mentally ill” but I guess he could be… but that shouldn’t matter. I am a little disappointed that so many here would virtually excuse this guy. If he is indeed mentally ill, then his family or his doctor need to keep him off the street as there is zero excuse (mental illness or not) of someone trying to stoke as much fear and hate as this guy does, especially since he physically accosts people.

  135. That is really my beef as well. Mentally ill or not, the person assaulted the OP when they swung a bike lock at him/her. Yet the OP didn’t bother to call the police. What if ten minutes later, this person actually did hit someone with that bike lock. Why engage, go to this effort to show the individual that you’re not willing to take his crap, but then not bother to call the cops? Mentally ill or not, this person should not be on the streets.

  136. …And OP assaulted jerk/crazy guy first by kicking his bike. OP should never have kicked the bike. According to the OP, the guy was biking away when he kicked the bike; he escalated it to physicality for no real reason.
    .
    Look, I I get it, I’ve also shouted back at a man for harassing me in similar fashion (fwiw, he was white, I was white, I still got called a white C-nt… perhaps he wasn’t racist, just descriptive?). I understand why OP reacted the way he/she did. But it was not a smart move. crazy/jerk could have been much more dangerous and that could have just put him over the line. As some who lived in DC in the 90s, you just don’t engage with crazies/potential crazies/jerks.

  137. After throwing the coffee in the dudes face it would only escalate from there physically if he/she remained. There would not have been a simple pleasant period of waiting for police to arrive. If others helped the OP maybe then he/she could have waited. But I’m sure thr u-lock portion of the incident went down pretty fast.

  138. THIS.

    I’m not going to get into responding to all the criticism. And I already acknowledged in my initial writeup I regret my actions and the escalation was a poor choice on my part. But once I’m been attacked with a weapon I don’t feel obligated to just stick around and see how things might play out if someone called the cops. If I stayed on the scene it would have got uglier.

  139. Have you reported it now, though?

  140. The OP was the one who took the incident to the next level and made it physical. If something terrible were to have happened and someone got hurt, if it came down to it, the OP would be the one at fault for kicking the tires and instigating a physical altercation.

  141. From the OP:
    “It was now clear to me that he was the source of the initial yelling and was biking on the sidewalk from group to group getting very close to people and violating them verbally. He called the woman in the white couple the c-word and said he would rape her. I knew he’d bike over to me next. Sure enough he did.”

    Are you sure you wouldn’t like to revise your statement?

  142. Incorrect because the biker left the scene and came back with a weapon. While any notion that the biker was acting in self defense is absurd on a rationale level on a legal level he lost any claim to that once he left, came back, and then resumed following the pedestrian. Self defense is to avoid bodily harm not an explanation for unnecessary reprisal.

  143. I think most of us here would agree that you were well within your rights once the guy did what he did to your girlfriend. I would take it a step further and applaud your restraint in not breaking a few of the guy’s ribs during the takedown.

    OP, on the other hand, initiated the physical confrontation. Different situation, even if it’s the same guy.

  144. “I am a little disappointed that so many here would virtually excuse this guy.”
    .
    I think you are misreading the prevailing sentiment here. Most people are just making the point that he is probably mentally ill, not that he is probably mentally ill and therefore can do whatever he wants. Many went so far as to say that OP should have called the police, so obviously they’re not excusing the guy. Hell, OP didn’t even call the cops so (s)he kind of excused the guy too.

  145. “If he is indeed mentally ill, then his family or his doctor need to keep him off the street”- if you think it’s really as easy as that then apparently you haven’t been paying attention. there are many families of the mentally ill who have and do try everything they can think of to get their mentally ill relatives into the care they need and it is REALLY REALLY hard to access, afford, and maintain the type of care that lots of people require. see- creigh deeds. i am not excusing violent behavior, but merely pointing out that this it is not as simple as “just get them care”.

  146. +5000 The resources have to be available to treat them, the patient has to have unfettered access to care and the patient has to want the treatment in order for the mental illness to be treated successfully. If any part of that equation isn’t working, then the whole thing falls apart. This is why you see so many mentally ill people in jail rather than treatment.

  147. Questioning the wisdom of the OP’s actions is not “excusing” the actions of the guy that attacked him. Those suggesting mental illness are not offering an excuse; they are offering a potential explanation.
    Remember a couple of summers ago when a guy who was attacking people with a hammer in the Northern part of Petworth. All the talk in the blogs was about some low-life predator getting his rocks off by attacking innocent people. But when they caught the guy it turned out that he had a serious mental illness that he and his family had been struggling with for years. It’s not an excuse; it’s an explanation..

  148. “All the talk in the blogs was about some low-life predator getting his rocks off by attacking innocent people. But when they caught the guy it turned out that he had a serious mental illness that he and his family had been struggling with for years. It’s not an excuse; it’s an explanation.”
    .
    I am at a loss as to why so many people seem to think “low-life predator” and “serious mental illness” are mutually exclusive.

  149. Mental Health Professional

    I’m not clear where you’re getting “virtually excuse this guy” from. Saying that there’s a possibility that someone has a mental illness is suggesting at least two things: 1. That their behavior is likely to be unpredictable, and anyone who approaches them should avoid escalating the situation if at all possible and 2. The person needs intervention which will likely be involuntary. That is why so many people have posted that the thing to do is not to provoke someone by kicking their tires, thereby escalating the situation, not to throw coffee on someone — which actually is assault, but to call the police — who have the power to get the guy off the streets in the short term, and to begin the process of getting him assessment and intervention — which could include jail and mental health services among many possible options.

  150. “not to throw coffee on someone — which actually is assault”
    What crap. Throwing coffee at someone who is swinging a U Lock at your head is not assault. Gimme a break.

  151. But kicking someones tires while they are riding isn’t?

  152. You’re conveniently ignoring the fact that OP initiated the physical confrontation by kicking the guy’s bike as he was retreating. That doesn’t excuse assault with dangerous weapon, but you’re not entitled to your own set of facts just to prove your point.

  153. I am absolutely not ignoring it. (The “you’r enot entitles to your own set of facts” line is kinda trite, isn’t it?) From the OP:
    “It was now clear to me that he was the source of the initial yelling and was biking on the sidewalk from group to group getting very close to people and violating them verbally. He called the woman in the white couple the c-word and said he would rape her. I knew he’d bike over to me next. Sure enough he did.”
    Given that set of facts, you simply can’t say that OP initiated the physical confrontation. The guy on the bike threatened violence and menaced multiple pedestrians. That qualifies as initiating a physical confrontation in my book.

  154. Crotchety Old Person

    Come on now, dcd. I think you mean to say that bike guy *provoked* a physical confrontation. He did not *initiate* it according to OP’s post.

  155. So, Deja Vu – what happened? Was he incarcerated? What became of the case?

  156. Deja Vu, that is pretty awesome. As a young female, I appreciate your actions.

  157. “This was not mental illness…”

    And you know this how?

    You clearly feel pride for fighting back. I just feel sad…for both of you.

  158. Personally, I would have just stepped into any one of the dozens of bars / shops / etc nearby and phoned the police if he was indeed being physical. If he’s just yelling at people, well, that sucks, but it’s far from the worst outcome.

  159. I don’t by the “why bother” excuse for not calling the police. I have a hard time believing that MPD would not take a report that a guy was swinging U-Locks at people on the street seriously. A guy walking around yelling and cursing at people? Probably not going to the top of the response pile. But a report of an attempted physical assault is going to get attention.
    There’s no indication in the OP’s original post that he or she did not call the police because he or she thought it would be fruitless.
    And I don’t get the racist angle. Did he use racial epithets in any of these encounters? Or is it “clearly” racist because he was a black guy yelling at a white couple?

  160. It’s DC. Call 911 all you want. The cops may or may not show up at some point in the not so distant future or they may not.

  161. Situations like the one you describe are the best reason yet for DC to get its own “Stand Your Ground” law!

  162. Did you just move here from Florida?

  163. Back to the cave troll.
    2/10

  164. Where’s a Ron Burgundy “Well, that escalated quickly” meme when you need one…

  165. Seriously, PoP? Why do you post this stuff?

  166. 180 comments and counting is why. I’m disgusted at myself for even clicking on this mess. I’m out.

  167. Money? Seems like more comments = more advertising revenue

  168. Except for that time whipping the scribes and pharisees out of the temple. . .

  169. You gave this guy free coffee?!?!

  170. I was hanging out on the curb near Carmine’s drinking an Iced Coffee – I like a cold drink on a frigid day. I set the drink down for a a second to answer an important call on my cellular phone. Next thing I know some crazy woman in a cheap winter jacket picked up my coffee and hurled in the face of a nice young man trying to lock up his bike! This city is crazy.

  171. Heh. You should have posted earlier.

  172. i really would hope that readers of this blog would understand the difference between racism and bigotry.

    racism is certainly a stronger more incendiary word, and we love to plaster people with that term. but the guy on the bike was a bigot.

    come on folks. when we use the word racist incorrectly it serves to undermine concerns of racism.

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