“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).

“What I Learned From Reporting Sexual Harassment on Metro.”

Location: Green Line, L’Enfant Plaza (Metro/WMATA)
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

Yesterday around 12:45pm I witnessed a very large man (6’4″, 250 lbs.) rapping/singing as he approached two young women on the train. He sat down on their armrest, ran his fingers through their hair, across their faces, shoulders, neck etc. while asking questions like “So do you spit or swallow?” You get the picture.

The women tried pushing his hand away each time he reached for them, but he was able to grab them anyway. The train was mostly full, and no one said a word or acknowledged what was happening. Eventually the sexual harassment got so blatant that an elderly woman sitting adjacent to them warned the man that “She’ll call the cops if you don’t stop!”

He more or less ignored the warning, moved back one row, and occupied the empty seat next to a young woman sitting by the window. In no time, he was all over her too. I started to press the red emergency call button on the train to summon police, but I remembered the recent Post article about how train operators have been disabling those buttons. So I noted the train car #, got off at the next stop (Archives/Navy Memorial), went right to the station manager’s booth and urgently told him to call the police and send them to that car, explaining how the guy was groping women with impunity.

What I Learned From Reporting Sexual Harassment on DC Metro/WMATA
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. You can do so anonymously!

The Metro employee in the booth nodded, closed the booth door he had opened to hear my plea, and promptly went back to whatever he was doing(!!!) I stuck around in case he wanted me to give him the suspect’s description, but no — that was the end of that. The guy in the station manager’s booth apparently had better things to do. I was fuming.

About 15 minutes later, I called Metro Transit Police and asked if they received any call from the Archives/Navy Memorial station. I was put on hold while they checked with the police dispatcher… and no, no such report had come in. This was the first the police had heard of it. Metro Transit Police then put me on hold once more while they called the Archives/Navy Memorial station manager to inquire. When the MTP officer came back on the line with me, she said the station manager had just told her that “No one at the station remembers anyone reporting anything.” So apparently, only 20 minutes after I practically begged the Metro employee to call the cops, he developed a case of amnesia. Interesting.

My next call was to Metro Customer Assistance to report this WTF situation. The customer service rep was pleasant, said “We take sexual harassment issues very seriously,” and that she’d tell the Archives/Navy Memorial station’s supervisor to look into the matter. “Will there be any follow up I can expect?” I asked her. Not really, was the response. These are personnel matters and can’t be disclosed. (sigh)

So the moral of the story– if you’re on the metro and need police, CALL THEM DIRECTLY. Reporting harassment to Metro employees might get you nowhere.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 7/30/13 by “RM.”

NOTE FROM CASS

WMATA is currently in the process of completing the next step of its anti-harassment campaign — conducting all all-staff training on responding to sexual harassment and assault — that we helped push them to implement in 2012. Until that training is complete (we’ll keep you posted!), WMATA continues to advise folks to report incidents directly to the harassment portal and Metro Transit Police; www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121; rather than station managers or other employees who might not be trained.


Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Submit 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. Recommended tip: 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).

“I’ve never been fully comfortable on the Metro since.”

posted in: L'Enfant | 2

Location: Green line toward L’Enfant Plaza
Time: Morning Rush Hour (5am-9:30am)

This happened two years ago and I was working in DC at the time and taking the VRE up from Fredericksburg. I was still living at home and saving up to move into the city in the not too distant future. Iswitched (sic) to the Metro at L’Enfant Plaza and took the Green line down to the Navy Yard. It was a normal, busy Friday morning so there were few seats available. I leaned on the wall near the doors and a man walked up from the middle of the train to stand across from me, close to the doors. I assumed he moved closer to get off at the next stop. Not at all. He started staring at me, grabbing his genitals, grunting, and licking his lips. I was stunned. As the train neared the SE University stop, he started to move toward me, not the doors which were right next to him. I’ve never flown out of the Metro quicker in my life. I managed to run down to the last car and find a seat. When I got off at the Navy Yard, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t tell the Metro Police because I didn’t think they’d take me seriously. As I was walking down to the gate, I called my boyfriend at the time and he laughed and told me I was overreacting. I started to cry. I didn’t even bother going to work and called in as I turned around and made my way back to L’Enfant to wait for a train back home. I’ve had lots of people tell me that what I went through isn’t even sexual harrassment (sic). I just misinterpreted the situation. That’s a lie. I was targeted by this sick man and I’ve never been fully comfortable on the Metro since. I still head up to DC fairly often for entertainment and friends, but that moment I was sexually harrassed on the Metro was one of the leading factors in my decision to get a job closer to home that I could drive to. And that still makes me sad because I really do love DC.

Submitted on 7/18/12 by “Anonymous”

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Please consider reporting to Metro Transit Police: www.wmata.com/harassment; 202-962-2121.

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

Metro Stalking

posted in: WMATA | 2

I’ve managed to acquire two male (possibly mentally off-kilter) stalkers on the train. One of them has sat down next to me on the train on three separate occasions over the past couple months and would proceed to ask me if I had a boyfriend, tell me he liked my hair, my nail polish, my clothes, and then talked and talked about nothing. Then patted me on the back when I left. The most recent occurrence was last week.
Photo by <a href=
My second stalker has sat next to me two days in a row. Yesterday he unsuccessfully tried to get my attention while I ignored him with my headphones on. This morning he made sure I heard him, tapped my arm, told my I had pretty hands, and proceeded to grab one of them to bring up to his mouth to kiss and I yanked it away. “I don’t think so” I said, and he got huffy and pulled out his wrestling magazine.

Since I’ve been in DC I’ve taken the same train to work each day, sat in the same seat, and I guess these guys have started to notice. I sucks that I have to mess with my routine just to avoid being hit on at 6am. I can’t handle much at 6am, and I’m way too polite for my own good and don’t know how to make it stop without possibly angering them. Hey, a talky/grabby stalker is still better than one that’s mad at you.

This may seem like a really tame story, but it’s made my commute super uncomfortable as of late and it makes me feel very vulnerable in general. Getting off the train, and back into the next car wouldn’t help much – they’d probably just follow. Tomorrow I guess I have to get on a different train and sit in a different seat and hope no one notices.

Location:Green Line to Branch Avenue

Submitted by ‘wish I were invisible’ on 9/16/09

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.