This is a broadcast e-mail I sent my mailing list:
Please be forewarned this holiday season if you see a gang of African American teens approaching you that they may up to no good. I was sucker punched and knocked to the ground one block from my apartment Tuesday night (9 p.m.) after leaving a coffee shop.
After I collected myself, my neighbor called the police. It turns out that there's a gang or perhaps several small gangs of teens who are randomly attacking, robbing, and chasing people during the day and well into the night. The cops know about this gang (these gangs) and can't seem to do anything about the problem because of the nature of the attacks. The cops believe that this is a gang initiation of sorts.
They have their routine choreographed. The attacker is in the first part of the swarm. S/he attacks, and runs away while the 'second string' feigns comfort/disbelief. If said victim does not fall for the ploy, the 'third string' tries to continue the intimidation. What saved me was an oncoming livery cab driver and car that happened by. All fled toward Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
I'll be fine after a night's rest and a shot of whiskey. Who am I kidding! Two or three shots of whiskey. My head's pounding and my ear's ringing as I type this e-mail.
I don't know if they're working Uptown only . . .
* * *
My first instinct was to turn around and walk back inside the coffee shop, or to cross into the street. I didn't want to be noticed by that many rowdy black kids. I wanted to be invisible. I wanted not to have stereotypical or racist thoughts. I should've have followed my gut instinct. Had I listened to the still, small voice inside, I'd not be sitting with a towel doused with alcohol and filled with ice against my head in between sentences.
I saw fire engine rage as I pulled myself to my feet. I imagined I had a gun to shoot into the crowd as haphazardly as they chose me as their next victim. I imagined gutting the obnoxious person who lurched forward to spit on me, but missed, with a serrated knife the same way my uncle cleaned the fish we caught in Galveston.
I looked over to see a livery cab driver and another car waiting for the signal to change. I wondered where were the cabs or other passersby when I wanted or needed them. I felt alone in the darkened area that used to house a hardware store and bogeda.
I've lived in New York for many years and nothing violent has happened before now. Immaturity and violence knows no race, creed, or nationality, yet I was offended as an African American by these kids who have no regard for life or personal property.
As I rounded the corner to my building, it felt like a scene from a movie. I was floating above myself, sure that I was in fact dreaming or imagining a scene to write in a future fictional work. My reflection in the first floor lobby mirror brought me back to reality. I was indoors, safe. Fears of being outside alone after dark had been realized in a matter of seconds within steps of my home.
I'll recover from this episode, a bruise for a day or two, but wiser for having survived it. I wasn't robbed, stomped, or disfigured. Days before Thanksgiving, I am thankful not for turkey, ham, or sweets, but for my health and life.