“I Was Harassed on Metro and WMATA Workers Failed to Help”

"This Behavior Needs to Stop"Location: Navy Yard Metro Station (Green Line), Washington, DC
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

Just after noon on Saturday, March 21, 2015, I entered the Navy Yard Metro station on the Half St. entrance. After reloading my SmartTrip card, I headed down the escalator to await the next Greenbelt train, scheduled to arrive in 12 minutes. When I got to the platform it was fairly empty, so I sat on the closest bench to wait.

Since I was heading to a job fair, I thought I would use the time to make some notes. Just as I was opening my tote bag, a guy who had been standing on the platform further down towards the NJ Ave entrance, popping & snapping gum or something in his hands and facing the Branch Ave tracks, came sauntering up to me. He stopped, leaned in a few feet from my face and said, “Yo, can I ask you a question?” “No, sorry, I’m working,” I quickly said, returning my gaze to my notebook. “Yo bitch. I politely asked you if I could ask you a fucking question,” he yelled at me, as he started to encircle me on the bench. I chose to ignore him, which only enraged him more as he walked to my left side and said, “This is why I fucking hate white people. Fucking white people…I want to kill you white people. I especially hate fucking white bitches. You know what I wanna do to white bitches like you?” as he attempted to stare directly at me. I took a breath, looked him in the eyes, and said, “Yeah, have a nice day.”

As he continued with his profanity and racial slurs about how he wanted to kill me and people like me, I grabbed my tote, got up and ran up two escalators to the Metro station manager. Out of breath, I knocked on the booth door, which she opened a few inches. “Yeah?” she asked me in a nonchalant way. “Hi there’s a guy on the platform who’s harassing me and threatening me. Can you please call the police?” I asked with an obvious sense of urgency. “Um, what happened?” asked Ms. Brown. I proceeded to give her a description of the guy, and a verbatim of what he said.

She didn’t seem concerned nor did she take what I was saying seriously. “Can you please call the police? The next train to Branch Ave arrives in three minutes and I’m afraid he’s going to get on it and we won’t be able to find him,” I implored. Ms. Brown stood in the doorway of her booth, and asked, “What did you say he looked like?” Again I described the guy in detail (height, weight, race, clothing, hair length, etc.) and she just looked at me. “OK,” she stated as she started to close her door. “You’re calling the police now right? I want to meet them on the platform before the train to Greenbelt gets here,” I commented expressing a sense of urgency. “Actually can you just come down there with me?” “No, I can’t leave the booth,” Ms. Brown said flatly. “What?” “Mmmm, hmmm,” she muttered as she closed the door on me.

I waited another minute then Tweeted @WMATA and @MetroTransitPD for help. I had no reception on track level and wanted to get this info out ASAP in case someone was monitoring their accounts and could provide more assistance. I got back to the platform just as the Brand Ave train arrived and, from what I saw, the guy who was harassing me did not get on that train. Just as I was thinking, what should I do next, I heard it. The loud popping. This guy who told me he wanted to kill white people, especially white bitches like me was still somewhere on the far end of the platform, lurking around near the NJ Ave escalators. At this point the platform had filled up with a family of adults & their children, two tourists who were trying to map their trip on a fold out DC map, and about 10 others. I backed up behind the family and slowly made my way to stand beside the Half St. escalators, in the shadows of the HVAC vents.

If I didn’t need to get to the job fair at Gallery Place, I would have left the station altogether, called DC Police, and tried to get the guy arrested on the spot. Four hours later I arrived back at Navy Yard. I decided to follow up with Ms. Brown to get more information from her. When I got to the station booth she was sitting in her chair, feet up on the desk in front of her, leaning back, and chatting on the phone. I knocked, waved, and waited for her to finish her conservation. “Yes?”, she said, clearly annoyed. “Hi, remember me? I was here a few hours ago and asked you to all the police because some guy was threatening me while I was waiting for the train?” “Um, yeah, I remember.” “You called the the police right because no one showed up while I was waiting for the next train and the guy was still on the platform walking around. Did the police ever come?”, I asked. “Uh, I don’t know.” “What do you mean you don’t know? What did they saw when you called?” “Um, yeah, I asked someone else to call,” she said, not making eye contact with me.

“Why didn’t you call the police?” I asked, my blood starting to boil. “My computers aren’t working so I couldn’t see anything,” Ms. Brown said as she waved her arm towards the monitors in the booth. “Are you kidding me? How can you watch anything down there if the monitors aren’t working?” I asked as I stepped up towards the booth to get a better look. “Do you mind if I take a picture,” I inquired. I wanted to document all of this. “Sure,” said Ms. Brown stepping aside.

“So who called the police?” I asked as I snapped pics on my phone. “Um I asked the other station manager.” “And what’s their name?” I asked. “Ms. Proctor,” she answered. “OK, are her computers working? Can you call her now to see what the police said when she called?” I continued. “Uh, OK.” Ms. Brown stepped back inside the booth, closing the door behind her. She returned less than a minute later… “What did she say?” “She’s not there,” Ms. Brown said. “What do you mean she’s not there? Where would she be?”, I asked. “She must be taking her personal,” responded Ms. Brown. At this point I was typing notes real time into my phone which caught Ms. Brown’s attention.

“Are you recording me? You can’t record me,” she said. “No, I’m just writing down what you’re saying, see…” as I held my phone up for her to see. “So what now? Do you need to file a report or something?” I asked Ms. Brown. “No, you have to call Transit Police for that,” she said. “Seriously?” “Yes.”

I was so irritated with Ms. Brown’s blatant disregard and dismissive attitude towards me, treating me like what happened was a non-issue that warranted zero help on her part, that I just said, “Thanks so much for your help” in a snarky tone, swiped my SmartCard and left the station.

Submitted 3/23/15 by “JB.”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

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. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).