Harassed & followed on the Metro: “When I continue to ignore him, he becomes angry.”

Location: Red & Green Metro lines, starting at Cleveland Park and ending at Columbia Heights
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

Three young guys get on the train at Cleveland Park at the same time as me. I can hear them audibly *take notice of me* to each other when I sat down. I pretend to be engrossed in my phone. They start to hiss at me at first, then began with the “Ay girl! Ay girl! Ayyyy!” When I don’t flinch, one tells his friends they are “doing it wrong” and should watch his example. He sits down next to me and continues the “Ay girl” stuff. I can smell alcohol on him. When I continue to ignore him, his voice escalates to a slightly angry, “What, you can’t talk to me??”

I look up, feeling the threat of his anger and say calmly, “Look man, I’m just trying to go home… I just finished a double shift, can you just leave me be?” He responds, “Well but what if I want to talk to you?” I say, “I have no obligation to talk to you.” He persists, at which point I get up and move several rows away. His friends and him try to collect their egos for a sec, then begin to get angry again. They all begin loudly coughing and clearing their throats, I’m assuming in an effort to get me to look at them. I get off the train at Chinatown and try to walk quickly to the green line. I can hear them possible jogging behind me stuck behind the crowd.

As I step off the escalator down to the green line and turn the corner, I hear from halfway up the escalator, the voice of the main guy from the group. “You know, this is starting to hurt my feelings” he calls out. I walk quickly away. Taking in the area, I see too many apathetic people that don’t look like people that will step up to help me. (There were other people on the original train, none of whom said a word. You begin to get an eye for the type after a while.) Finally I see some other young women of color and stand amongst them –Not to feed a stereotype but 99% of the people who’ve ever helped in these situations have been young women of color. The men seem to recognize this as well because two of the group chicken out from chasing me farther and I hear them convince the main guy, “Let it go man, let it go.”

I get on a different train car and think I’m finally in the clear. When I get off at Columbia Heights I see a police officer standing near the front of the train and consider getting his attention. Honestly, with the train pulling away it seems useless, and my effort to not look at these guys meant I didn’t have a great description besides a tattoo near the eye of the main guy. So I just keep moving to get outside the station. I’m almost at the top of the escalator and I pull a cigarette out. Thats when I hear the same familiar voice from down the escalator ask, “Need a light?” with a snicker. Now I have to speed walk quickly to get inside the door at Target because my car is in the garage and I know they have security. I get to my car and go home.

Emphases by CASS.

Submitted on 2/26/13 by “Mariah Blank”

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If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. Recommended tip: Program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

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