A personal account of attack near the U

These men were not drunk, they were not vagrants from a nearby ghetto, and they were not looking for money.

At 3 a.m. Saturday, two men attempted to attack and rob a friend and me near the corner of 14th Avenue Southeast and Talmage as we walked the block from his home to mine. I have decided to submit what follows to the Daily, because I believe it will benefit people to understand the nature of these attacks, as well as because I find it to be evidence of a disturbing trend among those I fear are students: using violence for thrill and entertainment.

I had read earlier last week of the brutal assault and beating of two students that occurred only a block from where I live and was very aware of the possible threat before leaving the house. My friend and I reassured ourselves that it was only one block we had to traverse and that we would be wary of suspicious people. I was also quite certain, at the time, that the previous assault must have been provoked somehow – after all, why would six men, likely students, beat an innocent group of people walking down the street at night with boards and baseball bats to the extent that their skulls were fractured?

Once my friend and I had walked a couple of houses down the street from his and my eyes had adjusted to the dark, I noticed a small group of people loitering ahead. We quickly crossed to the other side of the street, which we would have done eventually anyway, and I put them out of my mind. No sooner had we crossed the street and there were two apparently drunk men in front of us asking where the party was.

The men looked like students to me: one casually dressed in a long polo shirt and jeans with a relatively recent haircut and shave, the other with a baseball cap and similar attire. I let my guard down once I had determined they were students, and my friend and I tried to get rid of the annoyance by telling them “the party” was just up the street.

After this farce continued for about a minute (the men didn’t seem to comprehend where we were pointing), their demeanor changed suddenly and they began demanding my friend’s wallet. When he told them he didn’t have it with him (which he didn’t), they seemed a bit confused and continued demanding it. Next, one man grabbed my friend around the waist and the other began throwing punches. When we started calling for help, people in houses nearby heard us and responded. The two men ran away.

My friend and I were not injured from the incident, nor had we lost any money. Remembering the previous incident where the initial attacker left the scene only to return with bats, boards and more attackers, we quickly got off the street and called police.

My friend was hardly fazed by the incident, but over the course of the following days I have come to realize why I was and am very disturbed by the incident. I have also begun to notice a pattern in these attacks.

I had hypothesized previously that the preponderance of assaults, robberies and muggings around campus this last year were due to increased policing and cameras downtown as well as the realization by criminals that students were innocent, naïve sitting ducks for robbery. I cannot generalize all of the attacks that have occurred around campus this last year, but I can say that hints and clues are pointing me in a direction I had never thought to look.

When I asked the policeman Friday night what he thought all of the robberies and violence were about, he said, “Society is changing Ö if people want something, they feel it’s all right to just go and take it.” Although I certainly agree that society is changing, I could not reconcile the idea that these men were trying to take something (money) from us with the fact that they entirely ignored my presence as well as my purse, which was conspicuously draped over my shoulder the entire time. They also ignored my friend’s backpack, which happened to contain a laptop, as well as the DVDs I was holding in my hand. In addition, once they began throwing punches, they made no effort to remove the backpack or reach in my friend’s pockets for a wallet.

Clearly, the “robbery” was a front, an excuse to attack; just as their “drunken” search for a “party” was an excuse to approach us initially.

These men were not drunk, they were not vagrants from a nearby ghetto and they were not looking for money. This can also be said for the attacks last weekend – the men were not looking for money as they did not rob their victims after beating them bloody to the ground, and they were not vagrants from a ghetto since they came out of a house in this neighborhood (Southeast Como). In both cases they were students, very unprofessional and inexperienced at faking a robbery.

It would almost be comical if it weren’t so serious; if they were friends of ours, if it hadn’t been a cult of attackers the previous weekend, if no one had ever been hurt, if there were no bruises and no fractured skulls.

Why do they attack only men and ignore the women in every situation? Why do they pretend they are thieves? It is the people – students – and the motivation behind these attacks that truly shakes me to the core. What reason do students have to attack other students? Since when are recreational drugs not enough of a high that beating fellow students to a bloody pulp becomes necessary? And what sort of twisted, morbid mind do these new trendsetters have that the unprovoked beating of peers would provide such a high?

Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to assume that these attacks were carried out simply to achieve some sort of adrenaline high, or to achieve a feeling of power and dominance, but after being caught in the middle of such a ritual, I cannot argue with my intuition and I also cannot think of any other possible motives for such an act.

I wish this was not the conclusion I had to make and I truly hope that someone can prove me wrong or that these are just isolated cases. In any event, I suggest folks watch their backs and take this seriously, especially guys.

Paula Haynes is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]