06-27-2012 – Be Careful Out There – 8th Avenue (between Lincoln Pl. & Berkeley Place)

Brooklyn Bruiser

First of all, I’m ok.

I knew in theory why I shouldn’t use an iPad while walking down the street, but now I just WON’T.

Wednesday, 5:20pm, broad daylight, Park Slope – 8th Avenue just off Berkeley Place….

A teenage girl rushed up to me and tried to take my iPad, which I was (stupidly) using as I was walking down the street. I held onto it. She punched me in the face. I screamed “Get away from me, bitch!” and punched her back. Who knew I was so scrappy?! I got all big & puffed up like an animal when I yelled at her. She was smaller than me, but there were three guys a little ways away who were with her. I knew they were all together, because I had noted them as a group when I’d passed them all moments earlier on 8th Avenue.

I crossed the street and a stranger (an older woman) asked me if I was ok and asked me if I wanted her to walk with me. The girl crossed the avenue, so she was across from me diagonally at that point. She was staring at me. I stared back at her and said very loudly “I want to be able to give a description!” By then there were more people around – seemingly on every corner. I don’t know who saw what, but my main thought was to get home.

The stranger walked home with me and we noticed two of the guys were following slowly. I don’t know if they were trying to be intimidating or if they were just trying to go in a different direction from the girl or what. Either way, it made me a little nervous and I invited the stranger into my building, so that she wouldn’t just be there alone with them. Inside, I was greeted by neighbors. My super immediately had me call 911. The woman on the other end of the 911 call was very nice. She got all my info and told me that police would be coming to talk to me. They never came.

I posted my story on Facebook and discovered that two of my friends have been mugged within a block (on Union and 8th) of this incident. One woman was mugged by two young guys. She put up a fight, but they still got her purse. She said “the police were assholes”. Two weeks ago, another friend woke up on the sidewalk with blood down his shirt after being knocked out by a mugger. It was 11:30pm and he had his wallet and iPhone stolen. He didn’t contact the police because he “didn’t feel like dealing with the bullshit”. I know the police are busy, but it saddens me that this is our experience with them.

If this has happened to me and to two people I KNOW, think how often it must happen! And if 1/3 of us didn’t contact the police, think how many other incidents go unreported. My own response was that I was ok and nothing was taken, so I wasn’t prioritizing the phone call. Luckily, my super was thinking clearly, dialed 911 for me and handed me his phone.

Until now, I’ve been careful in areas I’m less familiar with, but completely relaxed in my own neighborhood. From now on, I’m listening to the announcements on the subway telling me to keep my electronic devices out of site. Honestly, though, I didn’t take those announcements at all seriously until this happened. From the number phones, iPads, and laptops I see out every single day, I know that other people don’t think much about it either. For me, it’s time to start reading one of those old fashioned paper books on my commute. It’s what I should do, but it kind of makes me angry to feel like I have to.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m feeling right now.

06-28-12 Update: My jaw hurts from the punch and is slightly swollen and purple. I moved to NYC in 1991 and this is the first time anything like this has happened to me. It happened where & when I least expected it to.

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