Reader report of brutal beating in Chinatown

It's been a while since I've published a reader report, but this one caught my eye. I browsed around the MPD listserves to find any further information, but so far I haven't turned up anything. Stories of incidents such as this float around the blogs every now and again. From reader Meagan:

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.washington.dc.us/contactuscouncil

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.asp?page=atd&type=dsf&agency_id=1075

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/corporate/contactus.aspx

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.

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.
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 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.


  1. It does sound awfully strange for someone to be shouting for more cameras, no one seemed urgent to help, they got away, etc... and then just walk away for her date after all of that. Odd.

  2. Regardless, she took a more active role than most people would. Her actions are still commendable.

  3. I'll add a # 5) to the list of things that one can do: start shooting violent thugs in the face. It makes it harder for them the laugh as they run for the Metro.

  4. An issue rooted in culture and socio-economics, to be sure. Whoops, can't say that. Dave's sensibilities get all akimbo as a result. Sorry, Dave.

  5. Chinatown is a freaking zoo on the weekends, especially when the weather turns warm. Thuglings swarming up and down 7th street, waiting for the chance to prove whatever it is they think they need to prove to the public. Urination, fights breaking out, hooting and hollering for no apparent reason. It's all but a Metro stop away.

    I bet the young urban professionals buying chic condos in 2003-2007 for $500/sqft are feeling like first class suckers at this point.

  6. New to the cityFebruary 17, 2010

    "I bet the young urban professionals buying chic condos in 2003-2007 for $500/sqft are feeling like first class suckers at this point."

    But DC is supposed to be safe now.

    Sommer Mathis said so.

    Soon the whites will become the majority in the city.

    So does this mean I cannot safely surf the web on my $1800 Macbook over at the Mcdonalds near the Verizon Center without some thug trying to steal it?

    Will the police not respond fast enough to recover it for me?

  7. This is very sad and disgusting that thugs with no regard for human life can run around randomly hurting inoccent people, and then get away without being charged, and sent to jail for their dangerous and sick behavior.
    If chief police Lanier, Mayor Fenty, and the DC police were really doing their jobs there would have been foot patrol police on the street that night, and this sick crime would not have happend. Lets face it thugs are not stupid..they would not have attacked this poor man if they saw police on the street watching them! So who is next? I know one thing I am staying sway from China Town...I will take my money out side of DC it is not worth it.

  8. what?! there's a young criminal element in chinatown?! i'm shocked! shocked, i tell you!
    what are we, tourists? this should come as zero surprise to any NW resident.

  9. That is exactly the attitude that allows crime to thrive

  10. Fight back. Attack these thugs on their own turf. I'd love to see a group of yuppies stomp a group of thug teenagers. Love it.

  11. "Fight back. Attack these thugs on their own turf. I'd love to see a group of yuppies stomp a group of thug teenagers. Love it."

    won't happen, yuppies are the absolute definition of self-denial, insecurity, and cowardice, its debatable which group is worse anyway...

  12. There's a Krav Maga training center right at the heart of Chinatown. One of these days some thugs are going to pick the wrong victims and get their asses kicked.

  13. "Fight back." Attack these thugs on their own turf. I'd love to see a group of yuppies stomp a group of thug teenagers. Love it."

    Whoever this is, you have to seriously look inside yourself and deal with some deep-seated racial issues. What exactly does this beatdown look like to you? 'Yuppies' vs 'thugs.'? In Chinatown yuppies can only mean the white, pop-collared doucebags who go to Fado. And 'thugs' can only mean groups of predominantly african-american teenagers. Sounds more like a racially motivated crime you're talking about.

    Just because black kids are hanging out in Chinatown does not make anyone thugs. If you don't like one of the few places in the city where white and blacks actually frequent some of the same establishments, stay the hell away from Chinatown and keep your hateful thoughts to yourself.

  14. Why would you even bring race up when I'm just referring to gang bangers/wannabe gang bangers? Sounds like you're a little more racist than I am. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to thugs. I don't care what race they are, they are stains on the community and need to get stamped out.

  15. PS: I don't think Tyler Perry or any of his shows/movies are funny. Does that make me racist? Relax.

  16. what's a "pop collar"?