“I am still in shock that anyone would throw a pretty good sized rock at a less than 3 year old.”

by Prince Of Petworth September 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm 113 Comments

fla park
via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

Hi everyone, not sure what my goal is in posting this, except to maybe warn other families. Today [Friday] I was at the Florida Ave park [1st and R and Florida Ave, NW] with my daughter. Right around 6:30pm the park cleared out and my daughter and I were the only family left. As we were just sitting on the green having a mini picnic three teenage girls (~16-19) approached us while we were eating, first just asking for food, then money. I felt mildly uncomfortable and respectfully said no. They proceeded to ask if the sand buckets next to us were ours, then stomped on them and said “Oops, someone broke them!” I replied, “Not someone, you.” I packed up my things and my daughter got on her bike to leave when they started asking me if my wedding ring was real. At this point I was feeling threatened, and quickly left this park as my husband was just arriving, right outside the entrance.

As we walked adjacent to the park, by the gate on Florida Ave, I explained to him what happened and why I decided to leave. The girls must have sensed that I was talking about the incident, and came up to the gate, yelling about how this is their “hood.” My husband who almost never loses his cool, started yelling at them for breaking his daughter’s toys and for their inappropriate behavior. They called my husband a “bitch” said “f*** you” and threatened to “go get the guy we are with” and reiterated that this is THEIR park. And then they threw two fist-sized rocks AT my daughter, which my husband was able to swat away. My daughter started hysterically crying and was yelling “those bad people throw rocks at my knee!” We had a separate witness who stayed as we walked away to make sure they weren’t actually going to get the “guy they were with.” But in any case, we are all a bit shaken up. This is NOT ok in a park for kids. Or anywhere. I am still in shock that anyone would throw a pretty good sized rock at a less than 3 year old.”

Comments (113)

  1. Cleveland Park runner

    That is an awful story–I am sorry it happened to you. I hope you called the police.

  2. Based on updates to the neighborhood FB group, she contacted police and it was reported as assault because of the rocks. I believe local families organized a picnic and playdate this weekend to show solidarity, but we were out of town, so I’m not sure if that took place. This is certainly disturbing and infuriating, but at least there is a strong community of families who will not hand over this public park to bullies.

  3. Sigh. That’s all I got.

  4. Please, please tell me that you called the cops.

  5. +1000. I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t considered at least harassment by the police, if not assault. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see those girls there again, either.

  6. Throwing a rock at someone is at least assault. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t worse based on the target being a toddler.

  7. Better call an ambulance too if they throw rocks at my kid. Either for me or them, not sure… but one way or another.

  8. +1000

  9. There was clearly *something* about the victims that resulted being targeted as not welcome in “their” park.

  10. Does anyone know what would be required to add “hate crime” to assault with dangerous weapon charges in DC?

  11. the victims would have to be a protected class and the crime motivated by such. punks being punks is not a hate crime its just a crime.

  12. A protected class?? Exactly who is not protected under the law? Ridiculous phrase. No “class” should be more or less protected under the law. Furthermore, all crimes are hate crimes. No one goes out and commits a crime as a gesture of love. All crimes are hateful. Another meaningless phrase.

  13. “Protected class” basically means “something on the basis of which you cannot discriminate”– race, sex, color, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
    It doesn’t mean the law doesn’t apply to anyone else, just that there’s an added layer of protection for groups which are regularly targets of discrimination. (Though it does technically also mean you can’t, say, refuse to hire someone on the basis of the fact that they’re a white male.)

  14. Ah, the old “every crime is a hate crime” weak argument. Give me a break.

  15. And yet they are (unfairly and unfortunately).

  16. this is not a hate crime.

  17. Sounds hateful to me.

  18. Sounds like it could be a crime committed due to racial prejudice.

  19. It’s times like this that I briefly reconsider my stance on concealed carry in DC. Yes, yes, I know that it causes more problems than it solves. But still . . .

  20. ” I know that it causes more problems than it solves”

    Please elaborate.

  21. Please don’t. This seems like a silly place for such a dubious debate.

  22. If dcd were to shoot one or more teenaged girls, he would definitely have more problems of his own, and no problems would be solved. Public excoriation, a legal case that could bankrupt him, a civil suit to take anything that’s left after his expensive lawyer gets him acquitted, and the inability to live publicly anywhere in this region. That’s assuming none of them are carrying, and he doesn’t get shot where he stands. And jerk kids would still be jerk kids after the dust settles.
    And let’s say he doesn’t even intend to shoot anyone, just scare ’em a little bit. You think they and their friends are going to see it that way and say “Hahaha, you sure scared me! Boy, did I learn my lesson!”
    No, they’re going to follow him home and, at best, harass him til he’s forced to leave the neighborhood, like that guy who wrote the screed a few months ago. At worst, use your imagination.
    That’s what it means to cause more problems than are solved.

  23. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  24. Who said anything about shooting people? dcd just said concealed carry, not shooting people.

  25. How can you even imagine a conversation about guns that doesn’t involve a discussion of the possibility of shooting someone?
    It’s like trying to talk about cars without talking about driving.

  26. If it’s just to scare people, wouldn’t you want open carry?

  27. I agree – I had a group of 4 kids probably aged 10-13 similarly harass me on the bus one day, and while it’s fun to fantasize about punching one of them in the throat or busting their head on the seat back or what have you, if I were to actually do any of that it would always be me going to jail/having their friends and family come after me/be sued for their injuries. Picture the Washington Post headline, “(Your name and job title) arrested for attacking children” and that’s the best case scenario. There’s no way to “win” in these situations, you just have to get out if you can.

  28. Well no you can’t just assault someone for harassing you, however if you’re physically attacked you are allowed to defend yourself. And on a bus there’s video evidence to show who started the altercation.

  29. well not exactly

    Actually it doesn’t, because the criminals who want guns will have them anyway, while law-abiding citizens who legally carry don’t go nuts and pull out guns unless a life-threatening situation exists. Look at Virginia, it has tons of guns and very little crime.

  30. Most of the guns those criminals are getting their hands on were legally sold in Virginia. We don’t have border patrol at the District line, and illegally held guns don’t materialize out of thin air.
    Furthermore, I’m curious as to when you’re sure it was appropriate to pull a firearm on these offending children. What they did was terrible and deserves consequences, but I don’t know that they had necessarily reached the point where it was appropriate to shoot them. Threatening to shoot them would be a needless escalation and basically commit you to shooting them if they called your bluff.

  31. Bluff? As in, threatening something I have no intention of doing? Sorry, wrong word.
    Which is, of course, why people carrying guns is a bad idea. In the abstract, when it happened to someone else, I don’t think shooting them is an appropriate response. But if this situation had happened to me and I happened to be carrying a gun, I’d likely have pulled it, and the threat to shoot wouldn’t have been a bluff. I don’t imagine I’m alone in having that reaction. Would that have been the right response? No. Would it have happened? Good chance, yeah.
    And, “offending children?” At 16-19 yo? Sorry, no.

  32. Sure. You would have done it and it would have been really bad. That is why it’s not a good idea. Call them whatever you want; children, teenagers, criminal assailants. They probably didn’t deserve death. And if they did, that’s a decision that requires more rigor than an upset father’s kneejerk reaction.

  33. I think we are in violent agreement here, anon.

  34. This is where we end up when the federal government bans research on a topic: factually accurate but largely irrelevant anecdotes being cited as if they proved something.

  35. Exactly this

  36. If by “Virginia” you mean Northern Virginia, yes, it has relatively little violent crime. But if you’re talking about Richmond and Virginia Beach, then no, it isn’t very crime-free.

  37. Props to your husband for keeping his cool- if someone intentionally threw a rock at my kid I would go full HAM.

  38. I got yelled at for being white and gay this weekend too – it’s really pretty bad.

  39. It’s assault with a dangerous weapon-rock, all day long. Hope you called the police. They should have been locked-up. A$$holes!

  40. I wouldn’t be surprised if these are the same teens who pepper-sprayed folks in NoMa not that long ago.

  41. I like your optimism, but I’m fully prepared to believe there are multiple groups of teens who act like this.

  42. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s so disconcerting when things like this happen, but especially when you have a kid with you that you need to protect/stay strong for. I hope you called the police, but I know it can be hard to think straight in this situation. My number 1 priority would have been to get my kid out of there as fast as possible…

  43. I’ve never understood why anybody would go into Needle Park without armed security guards with them.
    That being said, never, EVER let this type of thing get more than ten seconds into it without calling the police. DO NOT wait to see if things improve, or to see if they go away, or anything else. You start to feel uncomfortable, even a little bit, and you should count to ten in your head and if you do not feel 100% better (as in, they have walked a good distance away and are not engaging with you at all anymore), call 911. Do it immediately. Do it without hesitation. And no matter what the outcome is after the police get there, do it without regret and even a shred of guilt. ESPECIALLY when your own child is involved. Anything that happens to them is their own fault for intimidating a stranger and a child. Alway assume anyone who has made you uncomfortable would throw a rock at your child’s head and potentially kill them without hesitation, because as you have seen, that’s the truth. Call the police and let them handle it. That is what the police are there for.

  44. I strongly disagree with this advice. Get yourself and your kid away from the threat before calling the police. Whipping out your phone and starting to dial is in a sense an escalation of the situation, and already diverts your already-divided attention and puts you in a more vulnerable situation. Get to where you and your kid are safe, then call the police. Do not try to juggle your attention between your kid and your phone and a potential attacker all at the same time.

  45. p.s. I completely agree with calling the police, and hope that goes without saying. I just don’t agree with doing it in the midst of an unstable situation from which it could be difficult to extricate yourself safely.

  46. +1 on all counts.

  47. For the record, I go fairly often especially during my peak Pokemon Go phase. I’ve never had an experience where I didn’t feel welcome (except once when a homeless person was being belligerent, but other guys hanging out there diffused the situation). I’ve even been offered food a few times when people had a cookout set up going. I feel awful that this happened to this family.

  48. Oh – don’t think and black folks with a non-hood profile don’t get the “intruder” label/ treatment as well. I’ve never had something has severe as the posters’ experience, but have been accosted by black folks that think I owe them something due to racial kinship. Point is, you may be singled out for being white, but the wrong “type” of blacks folks get it too. And then folks like me have to deal with the racial fall-out. So screwed twice over for being the wrong color. Sick of these little punks ruining it for the rest of us.

  49. I used to tutor in after-school programs in DC public schools and saw this exact thing among the kids. Really heartbreaking. One kid would be too light-skinned, while another kid would be too dark-skinned, and then other kids would catch hell for having “white names” (David, Michelle, etc). And then there were the kids with soft hair who would get tormented, while yet another kid would be tormented for having natural African hair. It never ended — all this among Black children without the presence of any White children.

  50. My name is Elizabeth and I was told by a peer (black) she did not like the name ‘Elizabeth’ because it was a white name. I just remember thinking “how the hell does anyone expect justice and respect when there are such stupid (yeah, i said stupid) point of views over a freaking name?”

    it’s absurd

    i have also been told i am not ‘black enough’ etc etc.

    Race relations will never ever be solved with these attitudes, big or small. a damn shame

  51. In fact, most of us are doing just fine with race relations. We live among all the races, go to school with each other, joke with each other in the grocery store check out line, roll out or yoga mats next to each other, ride the metro together, send our kids to the same schools, attend church together, date and marry each other, and have many, many, many things in common. I feel ZERO guilt about race relations. I live by the philosophy of “love thy neighbor”, and I reject political propaganda telling me how I should feel and behave about race relations. I also reject divisive rhetoric that is designed to have us at each others’ throats. I can’t speak for the fringe elements that can’t get along with ANYONE. Their problems are their own and not for me to feel guilt over.

  52. I feel the same way, living happily among people of all colors, rarely experiencing even mild discomfort. (And when I do, it’s always based on sex, not race.)
    But I believe my black friends when they tell me their experience is different.

  53. I’m glad that you have lived in such racial harmony (I actually grew up pretty similarly in Montgomery County despite being a POC. I didn’t even know antisemitism existed outside of history books), but our experience is not universal. This is not about fringe elements, this is institutional and systematic. Just because you don’t personally see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist

  54. “Just because you don’t personally see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”. Like the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. Look, I’m just not wasting precious energy wallowing in self-loathing for stuff I haven’t seen with my own eyes, or stuff I’m not responsible for. I love and believe in life too much to waste it on cynicism and anger.

  55. As a kid of Ghanaian immigrants, I believe slavery & its aftermath really did a number on US blacks culturally. The hate they exhibit towards each other is pathological. I simply didn’t grow up like that and was not prepared for it when I transferred to public school.

    I don’t understand why their leaders don’t concentrate on changing that. It’s hard to succeed in such a negative cultural environment where you’re taunted brutally just for being you.

  56. “I don’t understand why their leaders don’t concentrate on changing that.”
    In pretty much every instance in life it’s always more convenient to tell someone else to change than trying to change yourself.

  57. Agreed with both of the above. This is a hugely important point. I have a 16-year-old Godson who is a first-generation immigrant from a French-speaking West-African country. He moved here when he was very young and speaks perfect English (sole point here is that there is no language barrier and he does not stick out as an immigrant per se), but having been raised by a large extended family of African immigrants, he has about as much in common with his African American classmates as I do (I’m an old white guy). But he is also 6 feet tall and ripped. Lots of white adults conflate him with the likes of the kids who attacked the OP and act suspicious/afraid of him, but he also gets it from the same kids who you and I actually have reason to be suspicious or afraid of.

  58. Amen to that. I’m a black woman and have dealt with this most of my life. And if you don’t help them, they call you a sellout, Oreo, and worse. Makes me sick.

  59. +1 was for Rob

  60. Word.

    My accent marks me as “not from DC” and appearance as “not from the hood” and it can be very isolating.

  61. Sadly the vileness of some of the people in this city never surprises.

  62. Please call the police and fole a report at the very least.

  63. Yep – wife and I are already planning on moving out of DC to Virginia. Why spend upwards of $600K+ for a home, plus outrageous DC taxes, and still put up with this crap.

  64. Oh, I don’t know, maybe two free years of pre-K? I don’t know whether or not you have kids, but two years of daycare = lots of cash money.

  65. What next, though? DC doesn’t offer much in the way of education unless you go private.

  66. My well advanced DCPS first grader would disagree with you.

  67. gotryit, I sincerely hope that things are better at the middle school level by the time your 1st grade is there. FWIW, I think it will be. But for those of us who have older children, Step2 is right.

  68. Your well advanced 1st grader world be advanced anywhere. There’s nothing magical about DC.

  69. Middle school is the kicker. Already looking for a good middle school because the options drastically change from the elementary school level and then once again at the HS level

  70. Planning the same move ourselves in Spring 2017.

  71. Yup, my wife and I are leaving after 30 years here because of stuff like this. Also, DC is not a place to 60 years old and needing “help” that may or may not come.

  72. Right. I hear the escalating cost of homes in DC and the relative affordability of them in Virginia means that more downscale people will move to DC while more upscale people will move to Virginia, and the Virginia will remain low-crime while DC remains high-crime. That’s obviously the way that’s going to work.

  73. You high, mate?

  74. Yeah, I think that was meant to be sarcasm?

  75. We already boycott Ledroit park due to similar occurrences… 5 days post c section I was knocked to the ground by 8+ years playing tackle football on the toddler playground. NO apology and when my husband yelled at the kids the dad (not in the playground area), followed us 2 blocks home screaming expletives.

  76. I was a very frequent user of the dog park and playground at the Park at Ledroit, but had a bummer of an experience last fall with the little girl I babysit. Racial slurs thrown at us like crazy for no good reason (you’re not welcome here, white b*tches, etc). Normally I ignore that kind of crap, but this was a 50+ year old woman with two very small children with her, and it just felt so sad that I haven’t been back to the park since. Bummer is the best word for it.

  77. I’d be really interested in a poll/discussion about this. My husband and I are contemplating the same move for a number of reasons – but a predominant one is violent crime in our neighborhood. We wonder – is this just the natural course of things? Young professionals move in, get older, then move out? Or is it possible DC might really see an exodus and suffer? There have been a number of posts recently with similar sentiments (remember the Columbia Heights letter?). We go back and forth on this practically every day – wanting to stay because of the convenience and perhaps a sense of loyalty, but then something else happens and we’re back looking at open houses in VA. I’d be very interested in other people’s reasoning.

  78. @anon_sell. The notion that you just “move to the burbs” for a lower cost of living and better schools is a total myth. All of the inner-ring suburbs with excellent schools are ridiculously expensive to live in, and every bit as much as DC. DC’s overall tax burden is not terribly different from its neighbors.

    Things start to get cheaper only when you move far enough out (or away from a metro) that your commute starts to really suck (assuming one’s job is in DC). Part of the calculus for working couples with babies/young children is that they want the shortest commute possible, schools be damned for the moment. Once your kids are say 4 or 5 years old and you’ve struck out with the charter lottery, people tend to leave. That’s the biggest driver — the crime certainly is a pain in the butt (I deal with every day in my neck of the woods), but that’s a secondary issue.

    I like DC, and would like to stay here, but I have no sense of loyalty to a city that acts disdainful of professional folks and businesses, but extends a caring bear-hug to violent criminals.

  79. If you think that taxes are lower in Virginia you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

  80. Sorry to tell you that in Virginia, you’ll pay at least $7,000 a year more on taxes for your $600k suburban house or Arlington hipster pad. Add in $15,000 for each of the cars you’ll need, too. Say hi to the Salvadoran gangs out there, please, and say goodbye to time and energy you might have saved for your family. Finally: please do what you can to control the flow of guns from the Southland up into civilization. Thanks!

  81. Wow this is quite the rant.

  82. Probably not an easy thing to do in the moment, but seems like it would be a good idea in situations like these to take out your phone and start filming/photographing the assailants. You don’t want to escalate the situation, but it makes the cops’ jobs easier when they know who they’re after.

  83. This is also a good way to get your phone stolen.

  84. Please do not ever attempt to divide your attention three-ways between your phone, your child, and a group of people who you are afraid are about to attack you. That is a really dumb thing to do.

  85. +1 to Haile on this and on many other comments on this post. All actions in such a situation need to be with the goal of protecting the child. Whipping out a phone (unless the situation has devolved and an immediate 911 call is essential) is contrary to that, unfortunately. Considering what MPD could likely achieve with video footage leads to a bleak Risk – Reward analysis, anyway.
    Best of luck to the OP.

  86. So they can do what with them? Give them a bad scolding? Nothing will happen to these kids even if they offered up their own names and addresses to you. See: post about former Chief Lanier.

  87. Oh, one more thing: if this incident causes you to be even the slightest bit wary and uncomfortable when you encounter a group of DC youth, then you’ll be lectured about being a racist who needs to check your privilege.

  88. Exactly. There is 100% a racial component to these incidents, and as long as that is ignored in favor of “white privilege” jargon and “Black Lives Matter” propaganda, it will not change – in fact, it only gets worse.

  89. I think one can do both – be upset and talk about this specific unfortunate incident where several teenagers behaved inappropriately and ALSO believe black lives matter and that there are lots of reasons why young black kids in DC act this way that has nothing to do with the color of their skin and recognize certain kids in this city did not grow up with or have the same opportunities that others have had. That isn’t to forgive their behavior in this specific incident. It’s to understand that until systemic issues that have oppressed black people are addressed, you will continue to see these interactions take place on playgrounds across the country.

    The privilege here is really that despite the OP leaving race out of the story, every comment here has assumed the race of all parties involved.

  90. +1. Explanations aren’t excuses and seeking to improve things doesn’t mean desiring a cessation of law enforcement. And the most counterproductive thing possible would be to force those as choices.

  91. While I really get that there are systemic issues that have oppressed many people, I don’t think those account for the kind of behavior described here. The behavior here is lack of teaching of how to act while being brought up; or, if these girls were taught, they have given into peer pressure to act in ways no one should act against other people. There are many people who have been systemically oppressed who DON’T act this way.
    Now you can talk about how systemic oppression can lead to family breakdown, poverty, unemployment, and drug addiction, which can make raising children who act well toward others a challenge — but still, every systemically oppressed child does not act this way. And many children who are not oppressed but have many resources available to them also DO act this way. Systemic oppression is not what causes children to act this way.

  92. You honestly think that “addressing” those systemic issues (whatever your solution might be) would prevent kids like this from behaving this way?

  93. These girls do not and will not represent my daughter and son who are being raised to be respectable kids. All kids are not the same

  94. A few blocks north of here, I had a group of girls (my guess ranging in age from 10-16) throw rocks at the window of my first floor apartment. I called the police and they didn’t take me seriously. They weren’t even going to file a report but I requested that they document it. I don’t get it. Why is this behavior happening (and apparently accepted).

  95. DC police are demoralized and exhausted from dealing with this crap – and terrified of being blamed for a shooting or excessive force. I’m sure some just don’t GAF, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most are just over it. It must be so, so, so difficult to be a good cop who loves his/her job in this town.

  96. I once saw a group of teenage kids throw rocks at a guy pushing a stroller at this same park.

  97. Realistically, what else would you expect from this park?!?

  98. so this is the pocket park directly across the street from Big Bear Cafe. I hate to break it to these girls but they’re at least a decade late in claiming that turf from gentrifiers.

  99. Ten years? Hardly. Truxton Circle is still a pretty transitional area despite how quickly Bloomingdale and Shaw have gentrified, though admittedly I think it’s gentrifying fast. But not the last ten years. I think it’s been slower than some of the neighboring areas b/c you have three cooperatives at it’s outer edges – the one here where this park is to the north, the one just across New Jersey between N and O to the west and then Sursum Corda to the south. As a resident, you learn where to walk and when to avoid these types of incidents, but I won’t deny I’ve heard some pretty terrible things yelled at me in my own neighborhood. I just try to keep my head down and otherwise am polite and say hello to everyone I encounter.

  100. I’ve had young kids yell at me and my wife to “go back to the white Washington DC” when we were walking on a trail by the Anacostia.

  101. when was this? people in Anacostia Park have always been friendly towards me – usually it’s the nod of recognition, but occasionally a smile and a wave.

  102. Where is the white Washington DC?

  103. Guys. A hate crime is any crime perpetrated on the basis of race. This is CLEARLY a hate crime. But sadly it’s not the type of hate crime that will ever be prosecuted accordingly, because [underwear gnomes].

    So sad that the people wanting to reclaim the park refuse to appreciate the gentrifiers’ progressive values. Racism is alive and kicking, but it’sit’s certainly not coming from the little girl who had rocks thrown at her. :(

  104. Eckington Resident

    I would be considered someone in a “protected class” and I also live in Eckington/NoMa. We were so excited when this playground opened because there was finally a play space in the neighborhood for small children. I quickly realized that the play space was more of a haven for the lawless. I’ve called the police a few times so please don’t turn this into a black vs. white vs. hate crime vs. thug vs. gentrification, etc… Sure… the people causing the problem at the park are Black girls/young women and Black boys/young men; let’s not dance around the subject. But I can assure you, I’ve been harassed just as much as the non-protected class members of the Eckington/NoMa/Bloomingdale community. It is an unfortunate result in living in a neighborhood with high instances of group homes, section 8/low income housing. None of the newer play spaces in Ward 5 are safe for families. None of them. But the fact remains that we all CHOOSE to live here because it is affordable. We need to pressure the police to act and remain present and engaged so our children can feel safe.

  105. Stuff like this really breaks my heart. I’ve lived in D.C. for nearly 15 years now and have witnessed lots of change first-hand (I grew up in the region and can remember a time when a lot of D.C. was “no-go”).

    But with two small kids it feels like there are fewer and fewer places we can go to just spend some time outside in some green space without feeling uncomfortable or at least slightly on edge. Soemtimes even being in our own yard is a challenge. It’s to the point now where we spend as much time traveling into the suburbs just to get away from it, and it’s looking will probably make permanent change in 2017.

  106. It’s 1968 at the Dudley St. MBTA station all over again. “Gimme nickel, man or I gonna lay a punch right between yo’ glasses!”

    Thought we’d extinghushed that hatred. Our dear leader has fanned the embers until open flame has broken out again.


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