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Young kids try to assault me while biking

While I was riding Capital Bikeshare home through Capitol Hill last night, a 12-year-old girl and a group of other kids tried to assault me.


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

I'm totally fine. The police caught the girl, and her mother promised to take action. Will this experience get the girl to shape up before she gets a criminal record that could impair her future?

I was taking the Green Line home from work. We arrived at the Anacostia station, and the train doors were held open for over ten minutes. I decided to leave the station and find another way home.

I hopped on a Capital Bikeshare bike at the station and headed north, across the 11th Street bridge. When I got to the corner of 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, I had to wait for a red light. Four kids were standing on the corner, next to the fence that has been put up around the charred remains of Frager's Hardware Store. There were three girls and one boy, all around the same age (12 or so).

One of the girls approached me and asked for five dollars. I told her I didn't have any cash on me. She looked at the bike and said, "You need money to pay for that, right?"

I told her, "Yes, I use a credit card."

She said, "Credit cards have money on them, give me some!"

The light turned green at that point, and I said, "Sorry, no, I have to go."

As I started across Pennsylvania Avenue, she lunged at me, pushed on my backpack, and yelled, "Give me money! Give me money!" a couple times, while the other kids laughed. The events of Tuesday on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) came to mind, and I turned around to make sure the other kids weren't coming after me. I scolded them and asked if they heard about the MBT assault.

The boy in the group started yelling, "Fuck you! Fuck you! Get the fuck out of my neighborhood!" At this point, I realized I could hurry up and bike away, but I wasn't in the mood to let these kids think they could get away with threatening someone on a bicycle, so I yelled out, "These kids are trying to assault me."

I moved my bicycle to the southwest corner of the intersection (in front of the dry cleaners) and called 911.

A gentleman came out of the dry cleaners and told me that the kids had been causing problems in the past, throwing rocks at the store's windows.

Two officers arrived after about 3 or 4 minutes. I told them what happened, and in which direction the kids went after our encounter. A quick check on the radio and the first officer was able to confirm that a third officer had some kids a block down the street. The second officer went to bring them back.

While she was gone, I spoke with the first officer. She told me that kids in the area were apt to do things like this, and that the children doing this get younger every year. The second officer returned a couple minutes later with a woman in her cruiser. This turned out to be the mother of the girl who had shoved me. The first officer insisted that the young girl be brought back as well, so a couple more awkward minutes passed while the first officer, the girl's mother, and I stood around waiting for the other officer to bring back the girl.

When they returned, the first officer asked the girl to state what had happened. She basically gave the full story, but claimed that she had just touched the bike, and not pushed me. The officers wanted her to apologize to me, which she did, but clearly not in a sincere manner.

The police told the girl she could be charged with both aggravated panhandling and simple assault. The girl's mother quietly told her not to be stupid and to apologize.

The officers stepped aside for a moment, leaving me with the girl and her mother. We stood there awkwardly as a light rain began to fall. The officers then called me over to where they were discussing things, and asked if I wanted to press charges. They were willing to lock the girl up, and told me that there would be a few hours of paperwork, but it was up to me how to proceed.

I told the officers I wanted the girl to learn a lesson, but I wanted to do what they thought was best. They called her over, and had her stand right in front of me. The officers told the girl that I had the power to ruin her life then and there, to give her a criminal record. They told me to tell her what I thought about the whole situation.

I told the girl that I thought what she did was stupid, and there was no reason for her to have done anything more than say hello to me on the street.

The officers jumped in and told her to look me in the eye, stand up straight, stop mumbling, and pay attention. The girl's mother, standing nearby, implored her daughter to listen. The police asked her if she had goals, wanted to go to college, and wanted to get away from the bad influences around her. They reminded her that her attitude and actions were going to damn her to a life of dead-ends.

Finally, I told the girl my name, and offered my hand to shake. She did, and apologized again (personally, it still didn't feel 100% sincere, but I remember how much of a sullen brat I could be at 12 years old myself).

Her mother said she'd be going home and would be on a short leash. I obviously don't know what happened once they got home, but I hope we got some sort of message into the girl's head.

As I got back on the Bikeshare bike to head towards home (yeah, I racked up some fees for having the bike out more than 30 minutes!), I thanked the officers and they apologized for my ruined evening. I told them it was absolutely not their place to apologize, and thanked them for doing a great job.

The officers remarked that, while the girl avoided a criminal record, they had her name and would put her on a "juvenile watch list." If she gets caught causing trouble again, there will be no mercy.

Cross-posted at The District Curmudgeon.

Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 

Comments

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DC cops don't get enough credit. Their actions here were in the best tradition of community policing.

by Crickey7 on Jun 14, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

Props to you for doing the right thing. I would've slapped the shit out of that kid, and then the assault charge probably would've been on me.

by Ron on Jun 14, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

the officer told her to look me in the eye, stand up straight, stop mumbling, and pay attention.

This is my favorite part of this story.

by Tina on Jun 14, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

Geoff, I think you handled it brilliantly (and the officers too) --- In the bigger picture, the goal wasn't to have her arrested, but to hopefully teach her a lesson as to why this behavior can ruin a life.... Let's hope the mother has success in helping her understand.

by coneyraven on Jun 14, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

As long as she hangs with the same circle, nothing will change.

by spookiness on Jun 14, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

Thanks for sharing. I'm so sorry to hear this happened to you, but hopefully this will pay dividends for both the girl & the public at large in the future.

Now that the 11th Street bridge is a safe and comfortable way to cross the river for pedestrians & bicyclists, this will be an even busier local route. What you did was the right thing to do and will help all who use this route.

by Tony Goodman on Jun 14, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

geoff, sounds like the best outcome was made from a problematic and mostly sad situation. there's always a chance that this sort of confrontation could escalate, but luckily it did not. i'm sure you could get a bit of a read of the kids as the scene unfolded.

good for you by not pressing charges, as it seems they were probably acting out not of malice towards you personally, but mimicking the behavior of others; maybe older kids, or probably adults. every situation is different, but i think i would have deferred on trying to make a legal case out of this for the girls sake. especially at so young of an age.

well done.

by Tim on Jun 14, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

Man, kids are crazy. Glad you're ok.

by Alan B. on Jun 14, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

Call me a pessimist, but this isn't going to change this girl's behavior. Sure, it probably scared her. But it probably didn't affect her in a way that would make her change.

by Tim on Jun 14, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

A few days ago I had just left my house in Eckington to go to work. I passed a group of middle-school aged kids on the sidewalk and for no reason got a large cup of water doused on me from behind. The kids just kept on walking past, giggling, as I stood there stunned and soaked. I turned around and went home to change - fuming. But, I still had to get to work and had no time or inclination to get into it with a bunch of disrespectful kids. It was just inconvenient - not dangerous like getting pushed or physically assaulted. Good on you for not letting this incident slide - I wish I had done...something...though I don't know what.

by AB on Jun 14, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Good job of handling it. No need to press charges and ruin her life over one incident, but calling the cops and making it very clear what the consequences could be was great.

Sounds like the cops did a very good job. Having a watch list is also a good idea as it ensures it really is a one time thing.

by JJJJJ on Jun 14, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

I appreciate what you and the police did here. While there are no guarantees that it will help, you clearly tried to help the situation.

by movement on Jun 14, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

You should have pressed charges. She will be doing the same thing again, if not already. She needs to be brought into the station, and given that experience.

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

This is why all that coded language about "bike lanes" and "doggie parks" matter. Those kids adopt the views of the trolls who mutter that kind of garbage. Combine that with an adolescent's tendency to try to impress their peers by showing who's badder and you get sad stories like this one.

That little girl won't change until she's an adult with adult responsibilities and adult life experieces. Until then, she'll still be surrounded by trolls who wish to demonize cyclists, "newcomers," etc and won't have enough interaction with other people to see that the cranky trolls are just that.

by Cavan on Jun 14, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

As others have said, kudos to Geoff for the thoughtful and appropriate handling of the situation -- and for sharing it on Twitter and in this forum. Like Tim, I'm a pessimist about whether this will ultimately change the kids' behavior, but not pressing charges was the right thing to do -- this time.

Also, props for the initial decision to ditch Metro for CaBi.

by CaBi Driver on Jun 14, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

About a year ago I have a very minor incident with one kid about 14 or 15 years old. In my anger I asked him, shouted at him, "are you stupid or do you just have bad sense?" He answered! "Bad sense". LOL! I have since seen him a few times. He lives in the community adjacent to mine that I travel through by bike to/from work. No problem with him since.

by Tina on Jun 14, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

A tip of the hat to you for standing up to these 12-year old girls. That was a scary story.

by Tom on Jun 14, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

In any other city in the US I would have told you that you should have pressed charges and insisted on an arrest and prosecution. But in DC it doesn't really matter. The juvenile justice system in DC is the laughingstock of the nation, and more importantly, is laughed at by the young perpetrators. There is no justice. Juveniles revolve through the system with ease and are back to their old habits in days, maybe, weeks. There isn't even a proper corrections facility for the juveniles, just some pathetic attempt at social engineering in Laurel. Remember when it opened and DC officials touted that instead of fence it was surrounded by rose bushes? Guess what, someone escaped the FIRST WEEK!

But the worst part is that DC law prohibits the police from ever knowing anything about any juvenile's record. A kid could have committed a major assault, or even a murder at 17, but when the police run into him as an adult, they have no idea of his record. Only in DC are the police more handcuffed than the criminals.

by dcdriver on Jun 14, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

I agree it wasn't worth ruining the girl's life over this, but also don't think that at-home punishment is going to work for her. I grew up mostly in small towns where the police had an in-between step they could use with kids like this (that probably isn't available to bigger city cops) where they would, usually at your parent's request, as they were trying to scare you straight, take your butt down to the police station and lock you up for an hour or two. You didn't get an arrest record because you were just being "detained", but I'd imagine being alone and scared in a jail cell for a few hours might have had a bigger impact on the young lady and her future.

Most importantly, I'm glad you're okay.

by ShawGuy on Jun 14, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

"One of the girls approached me and asked for five dollars. I told her I didn't have any cash on me."

Correct response is "no." "I don't have any cash on me" just conveys the messsage that "I'd give you money if I had it, and because you demanded it." Don't feed the trolls.

by MM on Jun 14, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

Concealed carry would have avoided a criminal record too. She tried to rob you, she assaulted you and you didn't press charges? Fool.

by Redline SOS on Jun 14, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

Yup, brandishing a weapon would be the rational level of escalation of such an incident.

by ohmy on Jun 14, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

Yup, brandishing a weapon would be the rational level of escalation of such an incident.

Hey...you never know. Maybe she's a MMA expert or has been secretly trained by Mossad or maybe she's Vulcan and wasn't trying to grab his backpack, but instead going for the Vulcan death grip or something. 12-year old girls are super scary...especially if you're a middle-school boy.

by thump on Jun 14, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

MM and Redline are right except for the CCP.

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

lol Redline. That was either very funny or very bizarre. I'll take it either way.

@MM - that's a really good observation. When kids or beggars ask me for money, I usually just tell them I don't carry cash, since I generally don't. You're right about the kind of behavior that might inadvertently reinforce.

by worthing on Jun 14, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

lol tom.

you must look like an easy target. Kids run screaming when I look up and they see my eyes.

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

I think she should get some sort of juvenile record, or at least have a scary session in front of the judge. I used to live in a very tough neighborhood, and it was always the same kids and their parents making the same excuses. They made it harder for the regular people (kids included) who were decent, but just happened to be poor and couldnt escape. I remember one old guy who needed his car for his job, and it was constantly being damaged by the kids and putting him deeper in debt as he couldn't work when the car was broken. One day he lost it, and shot one of the kids. Kid died, grandpa went to jail. It should not have gone that far.

by SJE on Jun 14, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

I think its time we also point out that various big names in the city seem to condone assault on bicyclists.

The Mayor runs on a dog whistle campaingn against cyclists and dog parks, and thinks we shouldn't enforce U-turns across Penn. Assault and hit&run by a retired MPD officer is not prosecuted until there is a lot of pressure. Colbert King casts cyclists as part of some evil gentrifiers out to hurt the black folks in this city. etc etc.

If the leaders have been spouting this poison, is it so surprising that the kids see this as open season?

by SJE on Jun 14, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

I've seen that gang before: the Apple Dumpling gang. The 12 year old is the leader and her henchmen are all under 10.

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

You should have pressed charges. A criminal record and some time in jail would have shaped her up and made sure other kids didn't do the same thing. A stern talking to is pointless...what they need is to be arrested.

by DC Resident on Jun 14, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

SJE: What did the mayor do for this "dog whistle campaign" you are claiming? During the campaign, he repeatedly said he was for bike lanes. Then, in office, he's continued to stand up for bike lanes. When he gives speeches, he says we need to do more to get people moving in ways other than in cars.

Is someone dog whistling against a policy if they constantly say publicly that you're for that policy and then when in office implement that policy?

And the mayor has called for enforcing U-turns on Penn.

by David Alpert on Jun 14, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

You did exactly the right thing, Geoff.

Given that the child exhibits this kind of peer-goaded behavior at such a tender age, she may not be sobered by her interaction with the police. On the other hand, given that the incident happened at a busy intersection in broad daylight, she may have simply come to assume that there will be no consequences for anything short of battery because of her age.

I'm glad that you acted like a grown-up and hope she will be more careful in the future.

by Fearing Dystopia on Jun 14, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

ha ha ha, none of you guys are from DC if you think a "stern talking to" will have any effect at all on this kid

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

but also don't think that at-home punishment is going to work for her.

Yeah. If the home environment was one in which at-home punishment was likely to be effective, she wouldn't have been out there in the first place.

Good job of handling it. No need to press charges and ruin her life over one incident,

I doubt this was her first foray into juvenile delinquency, and I doubt it will be her last. (I wish there was a way to bet on stuff like this.)

All that said, I probably wouldn't have pressed charged either. If I'd have thought of it, I'd have told her that I would press charges unless she coughed up the names of her friends.

Finally - aggravated panhandling? Who knew?

by dcd on Jun 14, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

@sje Think you mean Courtland Milloy is the loon with the "cyclists are white supremacists" vibe, not Colbert King, am I right?

by Read Scott Martin on Jun 14, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

This story reminds me of a report I once saw on Hell's Grannies:

Voice Over: This is a frightened city. Over these houses, over these streets hangs a pall of fear. Fear of a new kind of violence which is terrorizing the city. Yes, gangs of old ladies attacking defenseless, fit young men.

First Young Man: Well they come up to you, like, and push you - shove you off the pavement, like. There's usually four or five of them.

Second Young Man: Yeah, this used to be a nice neighborhood before the old ladies started moving in. Nowadays some of us daren't even go down to the shops.

Third Young Man: Well Mr Johnson's son Kevin, he don't go out any more. He comes back from wrestling and locks himself in his room.

by Chris S. on Jun 14, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

..lippy kids on the corner again..

Elbow

by reminds_me_of_a_song on Jun 14, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

David, I agree with you that the mayor did not engage in dog whistle language either during his campaign or during his service in office.

Some of his self-styled supporters did. Those same supporters didn't really read the substance of his positions or actually do much more for the campaign than spew a bunch of hot air. I doubt that candidate Gray solicited those folks who spew all the dog whistle language to do anything other than vote for him as any candidate for elected office would.

All the dog whistle types were lining up in support of candidate Gray because they ignored his policy positions and hoped he would be in favor of all their negative trolling. Good on Mayor Gray for being consistent with the good policies that you mentioned in your comment.

Those of us who remember all the coded language and attacks on bike lanes as proxies for being against change need to call out the trolls for who they are. During his time in office, the mayor has shown that he is not one.

by Cavan on Jun 14, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure what Gray's personal gut reaction is but I really think he has respect for the staff at OP and DDOT. Partially he's also just lucky in that he inherited some very competent staff, but if he wanted to he could have hobbled them without that much trouble.

by Alan B. on Jun 14, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

@MM and @worthing -I noted that too. The better response to a kid acting bad like this is to reprimand him/her for his/her atrocious behavior and bad manners - channel your inner teacher/aunt or uncle. This kid attempting to bully an adult is probably a terrible bully to other kids.

by Tina on Jun 14, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

After reflecting upon this for a couple of hours, I think I'd like to change my position. I would, actually, press charges.

Some children have the benefit of growing up in a family, a community, or with a peer group that keeps them from doing this type of thing. Some children don't, or worse have the disadvantage of growing up in an environment that encourages this type of thing, and need some sort of outside influence to correct this sort of behaviour.

While both DCPS and the DC Juvenile Justice system are both jokes when it comes to fixing this kind of thing, the only thing worse is doing nothing at all. And something tells me this kid isn't going home to a family like the Waltons or the Huxtables or the Seavers where a stern talking-to, a strict punishment, and a valuable lesson learned at the end of a half hour episode is going to happen or help.

And the thing is, this child is 95% of the way there to creating a situation that is going to be dangerous for her and might even get herself killed. I have a personal policy of not hitting children or women (or really anybody, come to think of it), but if I am attacked first I will defend myself and I will use *whatever* level of force is necessary to ensure that my attackers are down and are not going to get up until I can safely get away. Sadly, in this city, that might also involve beating up a child attacker, as we've had several that I remember in recent years.

So maybe next time she takes it up a notch and shows a weapon, maybe even something simple like a small knife, to get her $5. To me, that has escalated it enough that she needs to be dealt with using a brick or a branch or whatever someone can find on the sidewalk to incapacitate her so she cannot pursue them when they escape.

That makes me wonder, if she'd been arrested and formally charged the last time, if that might have kept her from escalating that last 5% to something that is very dangerous for a 12 year old girl.

Lastly, I wonder if this isn't part of a more sophisticated plan that might have made you feel differently about pressing charges. Sometimes, a person will ask for something like money in the form of dollar bills, or, more often, change for a $10 or a $20 just to get you to pull your wallet out so they can snatch it and run. A girl shoving you for not giving into a petulant childish demand is not worthy of imprisonment, but a girl initiating an attempt to conduct a real honest to god street robbery most certainly deserves jail time.

And I agree with whoever said it above - I will start just saying "no" instead of saying I don't have cash.

by ShawGuy on Jun 14, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

Wait until her big brother sees you and she's standing next to him pointing at you. You better stay out of that area for the next few years.

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

I said all that in two lines shaw. I've got to get back to work. Bye

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

But thank you. This column gave me a few good laughs

by NE John on Jun 14, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

I'm white, I once had a drunk black man on U Street ask me "are you afraid of black people" to which I said no, but wanted to say "only your kids"... I once was walking down Park Road around 14th and a kid yelled at me "hey give me some of that water" (I was carrying a six pack of bottled water home), I politely said no and informed him that there was a water fountain around the corner in Target where he could get all the free water he wanted. I was then greeted with "see that's why we hate white fu****s like you!" And this is only one of dozens of close calls I've had with bratty youngsters in DC. I once also had to get off a green line train to avoid being attacked by a group of teenagers who were about to gang up on me because I was watching what I honestly believed was them harming one of the teenage girls in their pack, I was preparing to report it the first chance I got. I don't understand what is wrong with these kids that they are so out of control--where are the parents?! I get it that socio-economic forces are at work and that there's no simple answer but jeez... I'm afraid of any teenager I see on the street, you just never know what they're going to do!

by Matthew on Jun 14, 2013 3:17 pm • linkreport

Ok, so we've now established that teenagers not terrorists are the real threat. And that if anyone touches or even threatens to touch a GGWer's backpack, then, one way or another, multiple cops are gonna have to deal with the situation.

by BTDT on Jun 14, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

I just beat any children I see on the street proactively.

by Igor on Jun 14, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

Just curious, but did the kid live in the Potomac Gardens public housing?

Some kids there are known for making life difficult for white people on the Hill.

by mch on Jun 14, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

OK, I partially withdrew my position on Gray.
Partially, because his speeches are one thing, but his actions/inactions are another.

On U-turns, the position of the administration was that the law did not apply. He is the mayor, and the administration answers to him. If someone decides not to apply a pretty clear law, either someone is completely outside of their authority, or there is a policy/political reason. This doesnt mean Gray, but it took the Council threatening to make a new law before he 'clarified' his position.

My biggest beef is with the dogwhistles. He may not have directly made them, but has he repudiated those of his supporters? Where is his Jeremiah Wright speech?

Sure, its a tough job, and a dirty one. But, if he wants to be truly about "One" city, I want to see more.

by SJE on Jun 14, 2013 6:45 pm • linkreport

And sorry, I meant courtland not colbert, whom I very much admire. More Colbert Kings please. He writes about the problems of the city, but doesnt pretend its all the fault of newcomers.

by SJE on Jun 14, 2013 6:49 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry you got put through a hard time by a bratty kid but with all due respect, so? Kids misbehave. These things are bound to happen.

One day a post decrying 'security theatre' at Metro. The next day we're applauding a 12-year old being scared straight as if that's the solution to juvenile misbehavior. Perhaps we ought to consider social justice itself as a requirement for expanding walkable, bikeable infrastructure, before we go straight to thanking the police for putting another young person in the justice system?

by LHomonacionale on Jun 14, 2013 10:55 pm • linkreport

SJE: The belief that the U-turns were legal was not the position of "his administration." It was the position of some people inside the DMV - not political appointees, but career DMV workers who probably have been there through many administrations. Once it got escalated to the higher levels of his administration, they moved to set up a rulemaking to overrule the lower-level people.

Yes, I'd like for them to have moved faster, but you do have to get lawyers to study a matter before issuing rules, and do some homework before just overruling an agency. Gray is a planning-oriented mayor who generally thinks things through before doing them, but he's doing them.

As for "repudiating," I don't know what people are looking for. Load this video of his speech at the moveDC idea exchange and fast forward to about 5:30. He talks about how DC needs to reduce the dependence on cars, touts the bike lanes, describes in great detail how a cycle track works, and more.

This is a policy issue. Gray understandably let people who hate bicycling go ahead and delude themselves into voting for him, but he didn't try to fool them.

He said in speeches at the time that he wanted more bike lanes, then put them in, and now says in speeches that we need to keep encouraging bicycling and adding more lanes.

A speech about bike lanes is not going to get the kind of huge press that the Wright speech did; any speech by a mayor isn't going to get that attention. One has to actually listen to Gray's speeches, not just get a sense from what makes it into news articles. He's been really clear.

You want to see more? How about an official plan from the city that says walk and bike mode share needs to rise to 25% by 2032, which is a very ambitious goal? How about actual cycle tracks, new CaBi stations, and an administration that has refused to undo bike projects even when some people (like Jack Evans, on the 15th Street lane, or AAA and the Examiner, on L Street) complained about them?

I'd like to see even more, too. I'd like even more bike projects even faster, but I think we've got it fairly good right now. If some people running for mayor win, then any DDOT initiative to expand bike infrastructure that takes away parking spaces or driving lanes will come to a halt when certain neighborhood elements throw a fit.

by David Alpert on Jun 15, 2013 8:38 am • linkreport

The bigger issue here is that IM Goph's true indentity has been revealed! :-)

But yeah, kids with poor adult supervision and/or role modeling will generally be a drain on society.

by Tom A. on Jun 15, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

"I'm sorry you got put through a hard time by a bratty kid but with all due respect, so? Kids misbehave. These things are bound to happen."

Bullcrap. A bratty kid is someone screaming at their mom in a supermarket because he wanted a Snickers. A kid yelling at a stranger to give them money is attempted robbery.

by Another Nick on Jun 15, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

"The bigger issue here is that IM Goph's true indentity has been revealed! :-)"

along with some other things. lol

by NE John on Jun 15, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

David Alpert: I am not talking about bikes. I am talking about racism, class envy, etc. He needs to repudiate the subtle, and not so subtle, racism I've heard from his supporters, like Obama did for Jeremiah Wright (and the GOP has not done to its racist supporters, much to their shame)

by SJE on Jun 15, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

This is why all that coded language about "bike lanes" and "doggie parks" matter.

Exactly. You can't blame 12 year olds for taking to heart the lessons they've been taught by the adults in their lives. (i.e. their parents, authority figures, and media figures like Courtland Milloy). If you've been raised to believe that any of your neighbors who is white and looks middle class is fighting to make your family homeless, you're going to despise them. We're not doing these kids any favors by inculcating them with this divisive (and inaccurate) message.

by oboe on Jun 15, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

This kid attempting to bully an adult is probably a terrible bully to other kids.

This is the side of juvenile justice that usually gets glossed over. We usually (wrongly) make this into a conflict between some poor kid and some privileged adult. But for every adult that gets attacked by a given juvenile offender, you can bet there are a dozen kids who are being brutalized.

Of course, their peers don't usually have the wherewithal to flag down the MPD and file a report.

by oboe on Jun 15, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Jenny on Jun 15, 2013 6:13 pm • linkreport

Take a deep breath. Count to three

by NE John on Jun 15, 2013 6:20 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Jenny on Jun 15, 2013 6:32 pm • linkreport

No more tolerance means press charges. All you did was teach her that bicyclists are push-overs. She'll just do it again.

by awesomepossum on Jun 15, 2013 10:31 pm • linkreport

Interesting that riding CaBi makes you a target. Maybe a shift after that new policy that bricks phones?

It is hard to know what to do in the heat of an attack; and I wonder if they were working off of some sort of chemical courage.

by goldfish on Jun 15, 2013 11:51 pm • linkreport

Thanks for publishing this story. Actually pretty inspiring. I've had a couple of run ins like this and it's incredibly depressing afterwards from a community and personal viewpoint. Your approach is a lesson for us all.

by Ben on Jun 16, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

Who knows what the ideal response would have been, but Geoff needs to be respected for his choice.

by Watcher on Jun 16, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

Thanks for sharing this Geoff. Hard to say whether this will make a positive difference in the girl's life or her friends', but kudos to you for trying.

by Lance B on Jun 16, 2013 10:25 pm • linkreport

What did the mayor do for this "dog whistle campaign" you are claiming? During the campaign, he repeatedly said he was for bike lanes.

I don't think this is accurate. Marc Fisher wrote during the campaign:

"The idea that bike lanes and streetcars could be a racial issue would seem farfetched in most cities, but in Washington, that's exactly what has happened, and Gray, when I was with him during the campaign, straight out told people that the Fenty folks had gone way too far with dog parks, bike lanes and streetcars--which have become symbols of the growing white presence in the city to some black residents."

He said of the Penn Ave bike lanes "I thought they were high when they did [the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes]. They are really ludicrous."

And then there was this mailer.

That all seems like a dog whistle to me. How do you read it?

He's been supportive of bike lanes SINCE the campaign, but he was definitely making a point that he was the anti-bike lane candidate during the race.

And the first bike-relevant decision he made was to fire Gabe Klein - who's been taking Chicago past where DC is during his time there. And that was a signal to the next DDOT director to tone it all down. Which is exactly what has happened. There's been progress, but not at the rate there would have been under Klein.

by David C on Jun 16, 2013 11:21 pm • linkreport

I don't understand what is wrong with these kids that they are so out of control--where are the parents?!

Their parents are the ones who taught them to behave that way.

by Dr. Spock on Jun 17, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

I'm in favor of public spanking for this kind of behavior. And to the fool who thinks we should not be afraid of these kids--guess again. They travel in packs like Hyenas and they will hurt or kill you. The thugs and their progeny are destroying the city and the future does not look good.

by bodiddly on Jun 17, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

I live very close to this intersection and can emphatically state that this neighborhood does not belong to kids like these. They may continue to live in pockets of nearby subsidized housing or with elderly relatives, but the I'm willing to bet there are more CaBi members (of various ethnicity) who outweigh obnoxious wannabe thugs like this group.

And it's easy to act tough and have a big mouth towards people who have absolutely no interest in interacting with you, let alone having a senseless confrontation. I would have let her get the juvie record on principle. I'm sure that mouth will be active all summer

by anon_1 on Jun 17, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

As a black woman, who lives in a quiet neighborhood in S.E. DC understands clearly the dismay of the writer and frankly is pissed off at a snotty nosed kids. After reading some of the responses, on one hand I commend you for not ruining this kid's life, with hopes "she will get it" yet on the flip side, you were better than me. I have a very short fuse for pissy kids. Now if a kid would ask me nicely for a bottle of water...its not going to hurt me to give a bottle or offer a couple of bucks however....

I consistently tell my own newly 13 year old child, I am not a ATM, you my love, have insufficient funds. If you want money ..WORK for it like I did as a kid. Cut grass, paint fences, but remove that sense of entitlement. Blaming the the girl's environment does not fly. There are kids deep in the throws of poverty who do not act like those kids. Bodiddly, I am a firm believer in whipping a child's tail when garnered...I am ole school. Spare the rod, spoil the child. My theory with that is, I would rather beat your azz, vs someone in the street who does not give a crap. It sounds like either the Mother can not control her kid, or is tired. In either case, excuses are just that excuses.

You should have had them take her behind to lockup..and let her sit alone for a couple of hours. Trust me it works...my Mom did that to me when I was around 11, never had to talk to me again. Never had a record, been in trouble because she cared enough to scare the poop out of me. Our kids in general (white, black, purple) are out of control. But the resources for them ie summer employment is slim to none. So I guess we all need to be more mindful of the Kiddy packs!..sigh.

by LT on Jun 17, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

Green Line Anacostia huh? Gee, I thought for sure you'd say Orange Line Dunn Loring

by Jack Jackson on Jun 17, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Why, Jack?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jun 17, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

David C: thanks for that. So I wasn't misremembering! Since election Gray has not been so bad as bikers feared, but its simply not true that he, or those working for him, have been engaged in some not-so-subtle dogwhistles.

Besides, the issue is not just about Gray. Plenty of people in positions of authority have cast bikes as symbolic of the newcomers who are opposing the existing black power elite. (Which is partly why I am against in-your-face bike "culture").

by SJE on Jun 17, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

sarcasm dog...

just glad you're ok

by Jack Jacksom on Jun 17, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Thanks, Jack. As you know, sarcasm is basically impossible to suss out from the printed word.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jun 17, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

Also, you spelled your name differently both times. If you're going to use a screen name, be sure to get it standardized. :)

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jun 17, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

"(Which is partly why I am against in-your-face bike "culture")."

How should I bike to not be "in your face"?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 17, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by kate washington on Jun 17, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

agree with @LT there's talk and there's unwelcomed hands on someone. I'd consider sharing a bottle of water if rephrase respectfully. Even so, that's just talk and rude manners with no accompanying threat or physicality.

by anon_1 on Jun 17, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by PG County Resident on Jun 17, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

I'm deeply disturbed by the willingness of so many commentators on here to throw very small children into jail. I live a block from this incident and actually walked by while Geoff was talking to the cops. The little girl was tiny.

by anonymous10thst. on Jun 17, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

The little girl was tiny

So was Adam Lanza.

by Lorraine Woellert on Jun 17, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

Lorraine,

Really?

by anonymous10thst. on Jun 17, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

The juvenile justice system in DC is the laughingstock of the nation, and more importantly, is laughed at by the young perpetrators. There is no justice. Juveniles revolve through the system with ease and are back to their old habits in days, maybe, weeks. There isn't even a proper corrections facility for the juveniles, just some pathetic attempt at social engineering in Laurel. Remember when it opened and DC officials touted that instead of fence it was surrounded by rose bushes? Guess what, someone escaped the FIRST WEEK!

Repeating the above in case anyone missed it because it's so very true. I would have pressed charges in that situation because: 1) you're not going to ruin that girl's life. Her record will be completely clear at age 18, 2) you're not sending her to jail if convicted, just to Laurel but even that's unlikely since they're overcapacity, 3) she probably wouldn't even go to juvvy unless this was like her 5th conviction and her assault would need to be a lot more violent.

The reality is that in DC you need a loooong track record of crime before anything happens to you if you're a juvenile. Pressing charges and getting a conviction would be nothing more than a stern warning that if she does this several more times, she MAY receive a punishment.

by Falls Church on Jun 17, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

The size of the girl should not prevent some sort of "scared straight" punishment. If she is old enough and big enough to push someone off a bike, she has the physical capability to kill someone. A serious talking to from the judge would not be unreasonable.

by SJE on Jun 17, 2013 3:31 pm • linkreport

I'm all for allowing young teens to experience the inside of a jail cell with bread and water. If they are old enough to work or to put their hands on strangers, then they are old enough to experience the possible future in store for them. We coddle kids too much in this country. So much so that they have as much control over how parents raise them as their own parents have over them.

by adelphi_sky on Jun 17, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

These type of incidents will likely continue and get worse into the future. It hits every sociological hot button issue in the city. It's also difficult because many of these kids are also as big and strong as adults, even at 12. The unspoken element of that is that most of the new mostly white professionals moving in are quite thin and slight and are used to travelling alone, especially bikers on the trail. It makes for an inviting target, especially for roving gangs of kids who often have little in life to lose. I never see groups of bicyclists bothered.

by Mike on Jun 17, 2013 5:35 pm • linkreport

randomly picking out someone for mayhem mostly based on their skin color (more fitting of the MBT assault) evokes other kinds of racial unpleasantness about which these idiots probably know little history

by anon_1 on Jun 17, 2013 5:44 pm • linkreport

These type of incidents will likely continue and get worse into the future. It hits every sociological hot button issue in the city. It's difficult because many of these kids are also as big and strong as adults, even at 12. The unspoken element of that is that most of the new mostly white professionals moving in are quite thin and slight and are used to travelling alone, especially bikers on the trail. It makes for an inviting target, especially for roving gangs of kids who often have little in life to lose. I never see groups of bicyclists bothered.

by Mike on Jun 17, 2013 5:52 pm • linkreport

ok, the girl did not push him off his bike. she pushed his backpack as he started to peddle away. I saw her, the girl probably didn't even weigh 70 lbs.

by anonymous10thst. on Jun 17, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport

ok, the girl did not push him off his bike. she pushed his backpack as he started to peddle away. I saw her, the girl probably didn't even weigh 70 lbs.

I'm not necessarily advocating this but if someone did that to me AND if I didn't feel the least bit physically intimidated by them (and their gang), I'd get up in their grill and tell them in no uncertain terms that today is their lucky day...if they just did that to someone not as nice as me, they'd get their ass kicked. And being an 8 year old punk isn't going to stop them.

OTOH, if I did feel intimidated, I'd have called the police like Geoff did.

by Falls Church on Jun 17, 2013 9:38 pm • linkreport

Okay, I'm going to say it: am I only the only one who thinks this was a racially-motivated attack? The coda to the incident -- "get the fuck out of my neighborhood!" -- seems to be a pretty clear sign to me it was.

by Ryan on Jun 17, 2013 11:06 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Chris on Jun 17, 2013 11:31 pm • linkreport

"get the fuck out of my neighborhood!" -- seems to be a pretty clear sign to me it was (racist)."
I don't think so. Every time someone dislikes change and expresses anger dosen't equate to disliking a whole group of people. There's a lot of suspicion of whites in the poorer black neighborhoods as well as vice-versa, which is going to take time to simmer down, but there will always be class resentment whatever the race.

Tip of the day:
"One of the girls approached me and asked for five dollars."
The difference between pan-handling and a pre-amble to an assault is the amount requested. If someone askes you for an unreasonably high amount of money, they are sussing out your reaction to see if you're easy pickings.

by Thayer-D on Jun 18, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

"told me that there would be a few hours of paperwork"

The sentence above jumped out at me from the original post. Why should it take a police officer "a few hours" to fill out paperwork on a simple assault? Let's assume this is an exaggeration and it only takes one hour. Or even 30 minutes. In the age of computers, what level of data entry for *one* arrest would require 30 minutes of work? Perp's name and address, victim's name and address, and...? Surely legislation could be passed to minimize the amount of data entry officers need to do per arrest, no?

by Alan Page on Jun 18, 2013 5:29 pm • linkreport

Maybe it's me, but I found this piece - and the comments - incredibly weird and honestly creepy. I feel like there wouldn't be such enthusiasm for "teaching the kid a lesson" if the kid had a different skin color.

Also, thanks to commenters for verifying just how scared you are of the African-Americans in whose neighborhoods you live.

by Corey on Jun 18, 2013 9:35 pm • linkreport

Yeah, and what a lesson. Some white guy you didn't hurt in any way has the capacity to ruin your life when you're 12 years old. Might be realistic but certainly isn't inspirational so the high-fives are disturbing.

Re the few hours of paperwork comment. That was the cop managing the complainant.

Probably also worth considering the possibility that it's not (just?) the kids acting out the script here. Casting this incident as a hate crime against cyclists seems over the top.

Thanks for speaking up Corey. I had a similar reaction, especially when reading this thread in conjunction with the one on Metro searches.

by BTDT on Jun 18, 2013 11:26 pm • linkreport

I think Geoff handled it perfectly well and made the right decision. What is the threshold then for when you should do nothing when faced with harassment and when you should do something about it?

I think plenty of us have "enthusiasm" for teaching a kid a lesson because at some point in our childhoods we were grabbed by the ear by some adult and made to stand in front of our parents and atone for pants-on-head stupid behavior.

Yeah, and what a lesson. Some white guy you didn't hurt in any way has the capacity to ruin your life when you're 12 years old.

What's the opposite lesson if nothing is done? That it's cool to walk up to a random stranger, demand five bucks and something they're carrying, and then push them around if they decline?

I agree that plenty of the comments here have been over the top though.

by MLD on Jun 19, 2013 8:17 am • linkreport

"Also, thanks to commenters for verifying just how scared you are of the African-Americans in whose neighborhoods you live."

Between my wife and myself we've been mugged 5 times - once in DC, the other times in other cities. each time the perpertrators were african-americans.

I certainly do not blame african americans as a group for that - I realize they are also victims of crime.

But to ascribe all of the fear many people have of young african americans to racism is simply not realistic.

The comments here were not racist, and do focus on positive change. I'm sorry people aren't as pleased with the behavior of this young lady as you feel they should be. Though I note that when we are, that tends not to earn much respect anyway - we are still "liberal hypocrites who like bike lanes and frozen yogurt too much".

by differenthandleforthis on Jun 19, 2013 9:13 am • linkreport

@BTDT

What the girl did was an embarrassment to her parents and to her community. I think we need to stop coddling our youth and blaming it on age. What that girl did, 99% of kids don't do. What she did was wrong. First, you don't yell out to an adult asking for money. Does she do that to her parents? And if they don't does she physically assault them? Probably not. There is no fear or respect anymore for adults or even government authority. Kids need to face consequences of their actions, not have them excused away or removed. Giving these kids a free pass to act like hooligans does much more harm than teaching them hard lessons that involve hard consequences. It has gotten so bad now that kids aren't even afraid of incarceration.

by adelphi_sky on Jun 19, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

Yep. Same thing happened to me this spring in Baltimore, but instead of quality community policing, I got apathetic cops who left me on a dark corner while they went to "find" the teens.

by Mark on Jun 19, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

"Also, thanks to commenters for verifying just how scared you are of the African-Americans in whose neighborhoods you live."

We all live in a neighborhood.

No one owns neighborhoods.

No one need apologize for living.

Child attacked an adult. Here's hoping her momma can help learn her not to be an idiot.

by anonanon on Jun 19, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

Child demanded money from an adult and jostled an adult, child's friends laughed and one yelled and swore at the adult. Adult was apparently a guy in his early 30s. Kids were, by his guesstimate, 12. All this happened in a busy area where shops were open. Nothing in the scenario makes it sound as if the adult was ever in any kind of danger (or even at risk of having property taken or damaged).

Adult felt like he'd lost control of the situation, so he reasserted his authority by calling in the cops. Once he'd made sure that the child who'd given him grief got more grief than he had, the cosmic balance was restored, everybody had been put in their proper place, and the incident was over.

Not an heroic story, not a scary story about today's youth, not a story about consequences. Kind of a sad/depressing story all around, made more so by publicity and commentary. (Although the "Bad Sense!" story was awesome.)

Yeah, we all have bad days when we overreact or handle situations poorly. And this one is rendered more understandable given the attack on the Metropolitan Branch Trail the previous day. But, in hindsight, hopefully you recognize that and vow to handle it better next time around. Maybe Twitter gets in the way of that process.

by BTDT on Jun 19, 2013 1:16 pm • linkreport

@BTDT: The girl committed the crime of battery. Different people have different thresholds. Rather than simply making indirect commentaries about what Geoff did, why don't you articulate your threshold.

It's clear that you think that it is an over-reaction to call the police when a 12-yeasr old demands money three times and then makes a minor attempt to pull a backpack off your back.

What if she been 16? Or a male? Or pulled the backpack down to the waist? Or pulled it off but you could easily get it back. Or appended "or your life" to the request?

by JimT on Jun 19, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

@BTDT -Nothing in the scenario makes it sound as if the adult was ever in any kind of danger

He was riding a bike at the time. it is very easy to push someone on a bike and with very little force cause a crash, which often results in a broken radial bone.

I agree with @ adelphi_sky:What that girl did, 99% of kids don't do. What she did was wrong.

Why are you defending the childs atrocious behavior? Would you proud of your kid if s/he did this?

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

@BTDT -(Although the "Bad Sense!" story was awesome.)

well, thanks for that.

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

No she didn't. Adult's account is child pushed his backpack. Child's account is child touched adult's bike.
Cop indicated child could be charged with simple assault (which, unlike battery does not require that the accused actually touched the victim). It's an open question re whether any jury would convict her on that charge given these facts. That requires intent to injure, intent to frighten, or actual touching of a sort that a reasonable person would find humiliating or shameful.

by BTDT on Jun 19, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

I wouldn't be proud of a kid of mine who behaved like either the child or the adult in this story.

by BTDT on Jun 19, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

Well he was wearing his backpack while he was on his bike. Its really easy to push a bike over, or crash it causing injury to the rider.

I think I would've yelled at her the same way I did the boy in my own encounter instead of apologetically saying "no cash". I would've given these kids an earful of righteous anger, which may have backfired. But anyway, the boy really was just being stupid, not intentionally malicious (and totally appropriate for his age). This girl was intentionally malicious.

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

So you don't think the author handled it the best way. People are all the time not doing things in a way I don't think they should be doing them too. its really annoying. the result is this girl will think twice before she acts so stupid again. I feel bad for her mother.

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

@BTDT

I guess you don't believe in the concept of, "It takes a village." then. The kids is lucky it wasn't someone who would chase her down and jack her up. Hence the parental admonition, "Don't talk to, beg, or touch strangers."

by adelphi_sky on Jun 19, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

oops double negative.

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

Nothing village-y about the relationships described in this story.

by BTDT on Jun 19, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

@BTDT -its sounds as if you are defending the childs bad behavior; that you think what she did was no worse than the way Geoff responded. Do you think what she did was bad or not? Do you think she should have been reprimanded or not? Her mom wasn't there.

the officer told her to look me in the eye, stand up straight, stop mumbling, and pay attention.

This is exactly the kind of "village-y" relationship to an adult in the absence of her mom this kid needed. Geoff's response provided the child with a proxy parental slap down.

So you don't like the details of how Geoff handled it. How would you have handled it? Why should she get away with it, w/ no parental-type smack down? What Geoff did ended with the kid getting what she earned: she was made to apologize and told to act respectful! Whats wrong with that? ReallY? What do you see wrong with the outcome?

by Tina on Jun 19, 2013 5:54 pm • linkreport

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