I hope your blog will help me to disseminate some critical information:
Last night I was walking into the gallery place/Chinatown movie theater and a group of teenagers ran out and started beating a random man in the street. They beat him unconscious and left him face down on the concrete. Horrified, I ran to get help, only no help could be found. There was an empty patrol car parked on the street, and no police anywhere in sight. The teens laughed loudly about their crime and ran off into the night.
Today I contacted city council and the metro police department who informed me that there are supposed to be 10 police officers dedicated to this area as a "task force". This was obviously not the case on this busy holiday weekend. This is also not the first time I have witnessed heinous crime at this movie theater.
What can be done, my fellow citizens? Well, I'm glad you asked. Several things can be done.
1.) contact your city council members. Demand a few things. Demand the city council consider lowering the teen curfew in DC, which has been upheld as constitutional since 1999. Demand more police presence in gallery place/chinatown. And since we all know that people behave better when they know they're being watched, demand cameras in chinatown. Big obvious cameras. Unless, of course, you like violent crime. In which case, do nothing. To contact your city council members, click here. http://www.dccouncil.
2.) Contact mayor Fenty with the same concerns. Remind him that elections are near and DC needs something to take their minds off the snowpacolypse. Making the city safer should do the trick. Contact the mayor here. http://app.dc.gov/apps/about.
3.) Since we know the real driver of change is business owners, contact regal cinema. Remind them that crime drives away business, and they have the opportunity to take a proactive stance and provide a safe enjoyable experience for their patrons. When Lucky Strike bowling alley instituted a dress code, and changed their policy to admit adults only at late hours, their problems drastically decreased. Not only does regal cinema have the option of hiring extra security, and enforcing zero tolerance of disruptive behavior, they also have the option of designating the theater as 18+ at night. Remind them that you are the consumer, and you will not tolerate violence and crime in your local movie theater. Contact regal cinema here. http://www.regmovies.com/
4.) Lastly, be proactive. Take a stand. If you see a disturbance, report it. Report crimes you witness to the police, report bad behavior to management, and blog blog blog.
I asked the reader for a bit more information about the incident, such as if the police responded, if a report was filed, that sort of thing. Here was the response:
After witnessing the event I went running to look for a police officer while my boyfriend helped to turn the man over. I couldn't find police anywhere. When I came back out my boyfriend said that someone had called 911 and the police were on their way. I went back into the theater and eventually found a female security guard. I told her of the event and she didn't seem too urgent about it. The impression that I got was that maybe she wasn't allowed to leave her designated area. She did have a radio though and the people standing on the street watching the man said that help was on the way.This was a terrible crime, and I am surprised by the lack of police presence anywhere near the Regal Cinemas or the Gallery Place Metro. Generally there are Transit Police or MPD on foot near that area.
I was on a date with my boyfriend and we were late to the movie so we did not wait for the police to arrive. There were onlookers on the street however that were staying there with the man waiting for help. I emailed city council today and chief of police Lanier, who wrote me back saying that she created a "task force" last year which was supposed to have 10 police officers on site at all times. 5 officers on foot and 5 on bikes. I wrote her back saying that there were zero officers anywhere in the vicinity, nor was there a visible camera or a "call police" station or button like I have seen in other areas.
She said she would be back in touch with me on the matter.
I do not know if the man received medical attention, but he was unconscious and his face was bleeding. The kids easily got away and no one chased them or stopped them. They headed down into the metro and disappeared.
I take issue with a few things in Megan's email though. Cameras aren't always an answer. I'm sure this assault was caught on cameras, but it will do little to help identify the suspects. Furthermore, MPD has placed big "obvious" cameras around the city, but it has done little to prevent crime or help make arrests. Officers on foot patrol, bike patrol, and horseback are the absolute best ways to prevent crime in these crowded areas. Transit Police have operations to prevent robberies, but should also work on ways to cooperate more with MPD. Transit and MPD have worked together before to help prevent the use of Metro for a getaway, this project should be expanded.
Crimes such as this, as well as robberies, have long been a problem in Chinatown. The large crowds and Metro access make for easy escape routes for suspects. However, there's a certain je ne sais quoi about these emails that rub me the wrong way. The incident is unfortunate, and I certainly hope that victim recovers quickly and also files a police report. I was a little surprised to read that the witness did not stay at the scene to speak to police, especially for someone so fired up and disturbed by the events. To all others, I would urge you to remain at the scene to talk to the responding officers and/or detectives. While it may seem pointless at the time, your statement about what happened could aid in a prosecution. Unlikely, sure, but imagine if the suspects were arrested on the Metro or somewhere nearby for a different offense. If you were able to provide some good information about the suspects, there's a chance they could be charged for this crime as well.