I have been a proud resident of Columbia Heights for the past six years. I have been riding my bike as a major form of transportation for few years now, and I would always boast to my friends that I’ve never been mugged because I’m hard to catch on my bike. I’d like to share with you what happened to me on April 6 as I was heading north on 11th Street NW between U and V Streets on my way home from the grocery store.
There was a group of about a dozen African-American kids who appeared to be coming back from school (some of them still had their backpacks on). My guess is that they were between 9 and 13 years of age. One of them was crossing the street ahead of me, and I wasn’t paying too much attention to him when suddenly he turned around and struck me with his elbow. I tried to maintain a balance on my bike with grocery bags hanging on both sides of my bike, when next thing I know I was jumped by around five kids from all directions who started throwing punches and mercilessly kicking me in my head and ribs. For a minute or two in broad daylight, there was this surreal sight of cruelty and terror. I started yelling, “Stop it, stop it, stop it!” raising my voice as I was taking one blow after another. I never had a chance to get back on my feet. As they ran away I could hear sheer excitement and laughter in their voices. There was a 66 bus heading north, and my bike, grocery bags, and body were blocking its way. I had a bloody nose, bloody knees, and a vicious headache stemming from a blow just above my right ear, which is limiting motion in my jaw. Had it not been for my helmet I would have easily ended up in the emergency room. I just threw my bike on the bus’s front rack and boarded. The driver and some of the passengers seemed in shock, and she was nice enough not to charge me for the fare. I am grateful that none of my injuries are permanent or debilitating, and sad that these kids grow up with so much violence in their lives and actually get joy and pleasure from these acts.
Later I called 311 and asked to file a police report, describing what had just happened to me. The operator took my name and address and said that she would send the next free officer to take my report. And of course the officer never showed up. I’ve lived in D.C. for long enough to know that the police have a bigger fish to fry, but I nonetheless wanted to mention this for the record.
I guess I’d like to inform as many bikers as possible to stay away from 11th Street between U Street and Florida Avenue, the backyard of Cardozo High, and hope that the community or the MPD can bring some attention to this problem.