Some Personal News
Some of you have already seen this on Twitter, but I still wanted to write something a little more thorough. Took a while to gather my thoughts enough.
Yesterday, Sranine (my gf) and I decided it’d be nice to take an evening walk to a larger grocery store that’s somewhat nearby – maybe a 20-30 minute walk. Kiddo was really insistent on coming along, and we had a very cozy evening walk.
When we’re approaching a roundabout that’s just outside the store, between the store and a nearby subway station, we notice a bunch of youth arguing on the sidewalk. We get kiddo in between us, Sranine holding her hand and me keeping my hands free because who knows what these people can do.
We rapidly walk past – it turns out to be a gang of guys that are truly shouting at a girl. One of them is literally towering over her – at least a head taller and face like a few inches from hers, gaping at the top of his lungs: “Get out of here. You fucking whore, get the fuck out of here”.
Right as we have walked past, he spits her right in the face. She shoves him away, yells about him spitting her in the face. They stumble over some bags of stuff that they had standing around.
I get pick up my phone as we’ve walked past and dial 112 (EU equivalent of 911 for you Americans). As we’ve crossed the street, we stop and I try to tell the operator what has happened. Get connected to the police, tell the operator there too. I have to repeat myself a couple of times, describe what is going on, where it is. They already have some incident report there, but it’s in some house, so might not be the same…? I get no real grasp of if they’re taking this seriously or not.
Sranine and kiddo walk away a bit, I stay and keep my eyes on the gang. Several others walk past, look like they’re picking up their phones and throwing worried looks towards the gang.
While I’m speaking to the operator, the girl comes running towards us, across the cross walk where we crossed earlier. I tell the operator that the situation is becoming an emergency here. One of the guys comes chasing after her.
I yell out at them. “Hey! Hey!” and run out onto the crosswalk. Place myself between him and her, go “Hey, what’s going on here?”. Back my way across the road, making sure to stay in between them. “She’s holding something” he says. “What’s actually going on?” I say. “She took our phone” he says, holding up his hand to his ear to show a phone gesture.
We’re now on the side of the street where the store is located, next to a small open square. “She’s got the phone”, the guy repeats. At this point, one of the other guys comes running over. A car has to stop to let him cross the street. Until now, the first guy has been reasoning with me – this new guys is much more aggressive.
“Do we have a problem?” he says. I don’t reply. The girl has taken the opportunity to escape into the nearby buildings. I back away. The new guy steps up to me, stands right next to me, his chest touching mine. “We got a problem or what?” he says. I refuse to shrink back from this, stand with my back straight. His face is close enough to mine at this point that his baseball cap is poking my forehead.
“It seems like we do”, I reply. “Got a problem or what?” he says again like it didn’t occur to him that someone might actually answer back. “Yeah it seems like it”, I answer again, and back away. A third guy from the original arguing group comes running across the street. At this point we’re a ways from the crosswalk, behind a low fence dividing the sidewalk from the road – it’s a chain hanging between poles that are maybe half a meter tall. He jumps across the fence, fist raised.
I see him coming and instinctively duck away – he only connects a glancing blow across my ear, but it’s still enough force to land me rolling on the ground. The three of them tower at my feet. The newest arrival kicks out against my leg, hits somewhere along the shin, surprisingly mildly. My brain has some weird thought that I always expected to not be able to take hits in a situation like this, but this wasn’t so bad. Human brains are weird, I tell you. I raise my leg to ward them off and defend myself, even as I’m on the ground. Still holding my phone, I tell the operator that I’ve been attacked.
For some reason, they back away at this point. I get up, start updating the police operator about what has happened. The most recent, most aggressive guy yells “I’m gonna kill you you fucker”. They still back away across the street, back to where they came from.
The operator asks for their looks. I ask Sranine, who’s a bit further away to take pictures. Keep trying to update the police about the situation. The guys somehow get a hold of a taxi, get in and drive off. I tell the police about it, they ask for the license plate. The taxi has stopped after just driving through the roundabout – I’m assuming the driver figured out something wasn’t right. I sprint over and manage to read the license plate for the operator.
The taxi leaves, I return to the others. Probably less than a minute later the first police car comes rushing in. A guy comes up to me, tells me he’s also talking to the police and that he thinks it was strong of me to do what I did.
This is getting too long already, so let’s just summarize that I spent a good while talking to the police (in person) after that.
A light bruise across the ear, torn up jeans, a scraped up knee and a bruise on the leg was the result of that evening. The police officer asked if I wanted an ambulance, then insisted on calling one to at least check me out. It did arrive, but was redirected because over in the direction of the subway station, someone had knife wounds.
Even though the situation is sort of on repeat inside of my head, I’m happy that at least there weren’t any knives involved in my situation as well… .and still, I’m feeling that I did the right thing. This country needs more humanity, compassion and courage.