After Witnessing a Brutal Attack
Last night I saw a man I know almost beaten to death in the street outside my door.
I woke up at 4 am to the sound of breaking glass and shouting. I had fallen asleep exhausted with the door of my house wide open. I went to close the door and there, in the middle of the street I saw 3 men violently attacking the clerk of our neighborhood convenient store. They were younger men, calling out to each other, punching, kicking, slamming, swarming the body on the pavement. So close and so brutal, I could hear the huffing grunts and the sick thuds.
Afterwards . . . after the men jumped in their get away car, after the ambulance and the police came, after the sun rose and the next day rolled in . . . there was still a greasy pall of dark ruthlessness lingering on the pavement, in the air.
I tasted a fear that infests so many people’s daily lives.
To be a witness to something horrific. To peer behind your window, afraid of being seen and also attacked. Of wanting to run out and stop it, to scream. But knowing, sick to my stomach, that nothing could protect me in the dark night with a gang of men high on violence. Now I scan the street every time I step outside, turn the lock several times each night, checking, checking again.
I keep thinking of my cell phone. And if only I would have had the presence of mind to grab it and snap a picture of the attack. The men. The car. The detective, interrogating me – could use it.
How strange, to be talking almost every day about the potential of PulseWire to help women document crimes and witness – a place to upload photos and videos for support . . to hold the violators accountable. And yet, when the crime is before me – I forget. This time.
He had a broken jaw, collapsed lung, displaced eyeball, three skull fractures, . . . . and, I learned, two children.
I know there are legions of us, all working to solve the root causes of all forms of violence – in homes, streets and forests across the globe. After a night of violence, the urgency of our task burns in my nostrils, and weighs heavy in my heart.