Monday, April 2, 2012

Rider Alleges Terrifying Incident


From Anonymous:

On Thursday at 12:30 p.m., I was riding the Red Line in the direction of Shady Grove. At Union Station, a group of six teenagers got onto my car with notebooks they were using to scam people. The kids use fraudulent Boys and Girls Club donation information to steal money.

They started their rounds – working their way from the back of the car to the front of the car, where I was sitting with my headphones on and staring out the window.

The first boy approached me and started his spiel, to which I said “No, thanks,” and he left without incident. A second boy approached me, began his spiel, and once again left without incident.

The third boy who approached me didn’t speak to me at first. He stood leaning against my seat, mumbling under his breath. I heard, over my music, “You need to wipe that stupid f***ing smirk off your face.”

Since I had not been doing anything to antagonize these kids and was minding my own business listening to music, I thought maybe I misheard him and took my headphones off. “Excuse me?” I asked. He repeated, angrily, “I don’t like that stupid f***ing smirk you have on your face.”

I replied that I didn’t know what he was talking about, as I was not bothering him or his friends and was simply listening to music and staring at the window. He told me “shut the f*** up you stupid f***ing white b**** if you know what’s good for you.”

I have been harassed by teenagers on Metro before, and as a rule, do not allow people to get away with treating me that way for no reason. I told him he was being rude and asked him to leave me alone.

He began threatening me, telling me how he could kill me, swearing at me, using racial slurs toward me, and telling me nobody gave a s*** about me. As soon as he threatened my life, I told him he needed to leave or I would call the police. He got angrier.

He then pulled out a lighter and started sparking it in my face.

I told him to get the lighter out of my face and leave immediately or I would call the police right then.

He laughed and got his buddies involved.

One of the teenagers apparently was shaken by what was unfolding and tried to get his buddies to leave, but they continued assaulting me. The other five surrounded me, yelling threats and racial insults in my face.

The one with the lighter kept sparking it about an inch from my eyes to threaten me. When we got close to the next stop, he shoved the lit lighter into me and tried to light my hair and clothing on fire.

When we pulled into Judiciary Square, they blocked the doors on the car, holding them open even though the doors had closed on the other cars. This enabled them to threaten me from a position where they could run back in the car to assault me if I tried to call the police or to be able to run away with the doors locking closed behind them.

With it being lunch time in DC and also cherry blossom season, the train was quite crowded. Nobody did anything to help me.

Several grown men diverted their eyes and ignored the incident altogether. I asked if anybody saw what just happened and could get off to be a witness with me, and nobody even answered me. I thought to myself, I know some of you men on this train have to have daughters, sisters, wives that you wouldn’t want this to happen to.

I got off at the next stop (Gallery Place/Chinatown), went to the station manager, and reported the incident.

Having encountered incompetent station managers in the past, I was very thankful that this particular manager was extremely helpful. He called the transit police and even offered me a chair while I waited for them to come, all the while saying how sorry he was this happened to me and how much trouble these kids were causing.

The police were also very nice and helped as much as they could, which I learned was not very much, though no fault of their own.

They told me that even if they caught these kids, there would be no repercussions for them. They said that very rarely does anybody actually intervene to help victims when they’re witnessing violence on Metro, possibly due to bystander effect or fear of retaliation.

They said they had arrested one particular teen nine separate times for burglary, auto theft, assault, and fraud and he was still walking free because of the way DC law is written for minors.

They told me how these kids target DC and Maryland rather than Virginia because Virginia laws are stricter and often land them in jail – not to mention that Virginia citizens can carry concealed weapons to defend themselves.

They also told me how horribly understaffed the transit police were and how they needed more police to adequately patrol the Metro. The most disturbing revelation was that these teens were getting their hands on guns more easily now due to a change in DC gun laws and that there was nothing stopping them from bringing them onto the Metro.

It was pointed out to me pretty bluntly that even if they were caught and arrested, these kids would then be given my information (right to face accuser) and then most likely be set free 20 minutes later with a grudge and my name and address. Even if they were convicted, they'd probably get nothing worse than probation and be sent back home.

It was gently suggested to me that it would be safer/smarter to not file so that these kids never get my info. And as a statistician, I understand that not filing an official report means that their crime goes uncounted once again, and anyone who actually has the power to change things can point at the stats and say everything is dandy. It's a lose-lose-lose.

I feel lucky to have gotten away without being physically hurt or robbed. The police were openly surprised that they hadn’t robbed or punched me.

I am struggling to understand how this can happen to me on a train full of people at 12:30 p.m. on a Thursday in a relatively decent part of the city. That’s not to say that violence at other times/locations is acceptable, but this is, in my opinion, a new and disturbing level of brazenness on the part of these thugs.

Be careful the next week or two – the cops warned that it would be particularly bad while these kids are on spring break.
Other items:
MTPD: Not DC's finest (Washington Times)
Gag order on employees at odds with law (Washington Times)
What does "accessible" really mean? FixWMATA finds out.
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