“Let’s find a way to humiliate a white person.”

Flickr: Foxymoron

"I Heart Gentrification" street art from this summer, found on U Street.

Michel Martin’s Can I Just Tell You? column about the recent, shocking violence at L’Enfant Plaza inspired a Washingtonian named Jane Lincoln to leave this comment on NPR’s website:

Thank you for your thought-provoking essay. I’m a DC native, white, and i’m used to subtle messages of hostility from black folks. I totally get it. The young man clearly is not from here. He would not have been enraged by their attack. or puzzled. If he was a native, he’d know, ah, this is one of those pay back times. I have white privilege, and no matter how pro-black i may be, i have what they don’t and they’re mad. Yeah, they were kids, and being bad, and the new twist is videotaping. But its an old game. Let’s find a way to humiliate a white person. Ah! That felt good. Now, what do we do? I’m bored again.

If i were present, i would have run to the station attendant and asked her/him to call police. I would also look as closely as i could at the kids to see if i knew them, or at least to identify them if ever they’re caught. i’d leave my contact info with the metro police. i’d stick around to see if i could be helpful to the young man. i know i would have done this. i’ve done it before.

I love this town. I work on my racism. I live in Edgewood NE DC and have lived in ward 5 for 23 years. The tensions between new and old, black and white, haves and have nots, will continue.

A Public Shaming for a Foiled Purse-snatcher

Flickr: zach kowalczyk

Metro riders waiting for their train. Wholly unrelated to this story, but it's a neat picture.

In case you haven’t already heard this story, I want to put it on your radar. Yesterday, TBD writer Dave Jamieson witnessed something extraordinary at the Foggy Bottom metro station; a kid grabbed a woman’s purse, a concerned citizen ran after the boy and caught him, and then, a metro employee yelled at the immobilized culprit!

Once we made it out on the platform, a dozen or so passengers had formed a circle near the base of the escalator steps. (This is where the video above begins.) At the center of the circle was the boy who’d grabbed the purse, wrapped up by a good samaritan who’d run him down. The man, who was middle-aged and broad-shouldered, clearly wasn’t trying to hurt the kid, as the video makes clear. He just wanted to hold him until the authorities showed up…Meanwhile, the boy, who looked to be about 15, pleaded to be let go. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said. The victim stood nearby with the purse that had been grabbed, looking mortified. “I said I’m sorry,” the kid went on.

…another Metro employee arrived on the scene. He ordered the boy to sit on the ground and wait until transit police arrived. Then, as the video shows around the 1:25 mark, he gave the kid a public scolding.

“There ain’t no apologizing, son,” he said. “It’s too late to apologize. You can apologize to transit [police] when they get here.” He shamed the kid for robbing a woman. “You’ve got a mother at home. You don’t take money from a lady,” he went on. “You’re gonna learn something tonight.”

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“Go and do likewise.”

I saw this video on YouTube yesterday, but didn’t want to link to it because of the profanity and a few other reasons…I’m grateful TBD has more information that I can point you to, instead. This whole story just makes me want to shake my head. No one helped. Everyone filmed. This city’s social fabric is fraying everywhere and in some spots, it is worn through:

On Sunday night, Allen Haywood was randomly and viciously attacked by two kids on the platform of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Dozens of people witnessed it. Several people filmed it. Nobody helped.

Haywood was trying to transfer to the Yellow Line around 7:15 p.m. when the assault happened. He was headed home to Fort Totten after working out at Results on Capitol Hill, a gym bag slung over his shoulder and a book in his hands. As he read with his back to the station wall, “all of a sudden someone whacked me on the back of the head really hard,” he recalls…

Haywood looked to strangers for help, but all he saw were other kids with their cell phones out, recording the scene and laughing. Judging from his voice-over, the man shooting the YouTube video above doesn’t appear to be part of the group. The video showed up yesterday on Unsuck D.C. Metro, which posted an anonymous account of the attack Tuesday.

“I can understand people not wanting to get physically involved,” says Haywood, who’s 47 and works in a Friendship Heights flower shop. “But nobody pressed the emergency button or went to the booth,” as far as he knows.

One of those kids offered to sell him the video of his own beating. I used to think the scariest thing about Metro was the broken escalators (the extra long ones make me queasy); now I think it’s the terrifying lack of a response to crime, whether from the people paid to work there or the commuters who look the other way.

Be Careful with Your Boxes

Flickr: mark sebastian

Some presents are way cuter than others, right? Anyway, be careful about when you put this box out!

In case you missed it, this story from WAMU’s Jessica Gould has some timely and wise advice:

Burglaries in Washington are up 14 percent in December compared to a year ago. And D.C. police are urging residents to be careful as they put away their Christmas packages.

Assistant Police Chief Alfred Durham says Santa Claus isn’t the only stranger who wants to slip into your house this season…And Durham says those big boxes are like red flags for burglars.

“So why not keep those packages or the packaging inside the home until trash collection day? That way folks who are doing these casing neighborhoods will not see that, ‘Hey, here’s a good target — they have a brand new 42-inch flat screen TV,’” he says.

Durham also advises residents to keep their doors locked and their alarms on.

This makes so much sense, but it’s not like it would occur to most people that breaking down a box to remove clutter inside the home and putting it outside is a great way to broadcast to the world that someone got a brand new TV, laptop or toy. Be careful, out there.

A Vigil in Brookland for Raj Patel


Last Saturday, Raj Patel was murdered when he chanced upon a robbery happening in the corner store he managed, in Brookland. Last night, the community which appreciated him held a vigil in his memory. We Love DC was there, and unimpressed with MPD’s excuse for its absence:

Mr. Patel’s son, nephew and brother were present, and have asked that any further donations not be made to the family, but rather to Brookland causes, businesses and churches. Mr. Patel’s nephew explained that while the donations were generous and welcome, that the family knew that Mr. Patel would have wanted that money to go to the people who would need it this holiday season within the Brookland community.

I was disappointed at the lack of representation from MPD, who did not send anyone to the event. I received an email from Commander Greene of the Fifth District last night who said that they had not been made aware of the vigil, and had they known, they would have sent someone to attend and speak to the group, but that they were unaware. Given the large number of posts on area listserves, as well as flyers throughout the neighborhood announcing the event, I find it troubling they were not organically aware of the event, and would have needed an invite.

NBC 4 has more; the murder has not been solved.

The Intersection of Crime and Social Media


Obligatory screen-capture to illustrate that this post is about a popular social networking program.

This is shocking. Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher‘s home was burglarized– and though he wasn’t home when the dastardly deed occurred, he saw the perp’s face:

Sometime between 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Friday, a burglar busted through our basement door — simply kicked through the 80-year-old wood panels — and took a bunch of stuff. My son, 15, got hit hardest; his laptop, iPod, savings bonds and cash were gone.

Just one more example of life in the big city. Except that the apparent thief didn’t stop with taking our belongings.

He felt compelled to showboat about his big achievement: He opened my son’s computer, took a photo of himself sneering as he pointed to the cash lifted from my son’s desk, and then went on my son’s Facebook account and posted the picture for 400 teenagers to see.

Think that chutzpah-powered picture will lead to an easy resolution of this crime? Wrong.
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These are wise words. Heed them!


This is a PSA for a different "Street Smart" campaign in D.C. but both causes are worthy ones.

DCentric reader Judith Claire left this helpful comment on my iPhones-are-attractive-to-thieves post from earlier today, “I am glad I have an Android“:

City folks have to learn how to have street smarts. Take if from an old, white woman who learned all about street smarts from my students starting in 1963 Cardozo HS and also for many years at Shaw Jr. High. Walking or jogging anywhere with ones ears plugged is not smart! Even joggers lose their “ear plugs.’ Give the city a break! Give our police force a break. Be street smart here and all over the world! Just do it! Just sayin’…and lock your doors on house and car! Enough already!


I am glad I have an Android


Careful with that toy, little guy.

…after reading this, in TBD. If you carry an iPhone, you should read it, too. The piece is about how iPhone-users are a walking target; it starts with the story of Alexandra Friendly, who was walking home from work this Spring, when…

En route from work one afternoon this April, Friendly walked out of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station and made her way up 10th Street NE toward home. Along the way, she popped in her earphones and played some music on the iPhone she’d bought two weeks earlier…

Then she felt a hand on top of hers. And then a yank that pulled her phone out of her hand, breaking her headphones off at the plug and leaving the buds in her ears. She watched, shocked, as her iPhone thief made his way back to a car. Enraged, she ran to the car and grabbed onto the door as it started to roll off. She managed to hang on until she was dropped a short way down the block, where a woman helped her up…

“Everything went black and white,” says Friendly. “When I think about the memories I don’t see any colors.” All she can remember seeing clearly are the young man’s shoulder-length dreadlocks as he headed to the car. The cops told her they’d be in touch if they learned anything, and that was pretty much the end of it.

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Vigil for Columbia Heights Murder Victim Ebony Franklin, Tonight.

Ebony Franklin.

That’s the name of the teen-aged girl whose body was found stuffed in a Columbia Heights trash receptacle earlier this week. I just found out that there is going to be a vigil for her later this evening, at 11th and Fairmont Streets, at 6:30 pm.

Franklin had been a student at Cardozo high school before moving to Maryland, with her Mother. Her Father still lives in Northwest:

Ebony Franklin was reported missing Saturday by her mother, with whom she lived in Capitol Heights, police said. They said the girl was fatally stabbed and stuffed in the barrel in a back alley off 11th and Fairmont streets NW in Columbia Heights.

An acquaintance said Ebony, who had lived in Columbia Heights before moving to Maryland, was a student at Cardozo High School, two blocks south of where her body was found. Police said she often visited her father in Northwest Washington.

Homicide detectives investigating the slaying Tuesday night were attempting to piece together the girl’s movements over the weekend, police said.