What's the Cause of Metro Violence?

Two recent attacks caught on video

What the heck is going on on Metro?

No, I don’t mean the maintenance workers relieving themselves in the tunnels, or the time-wasting, resource-wasting anti-terrorism “show of force” taking place at a few stations. I’m referring to the recent round of bizarre unprovoked violence.

There has always been violence in the Metro system. In any dimly lit public space with a small number of exits and a minimal number of police officers on patrol, there will be robberies and fights and the occasional lashing out by a crazy person. It’s not good, but it’s to be expected.

Last week, a reader informed Unsuck D.C. Metro that his brother was assaulted at L’Enfant Plaza early on the evening of Jan. 2. “All he was doing was coming home from the gym, reading a book, waiting for his train,” the reader said. While he suffered no broken bones, he did get multiple cuts and bruises on his face, including a black eye.

During the assault, “no one came to his aid, though lots of people stood around and watched,” the reader said. Some even filmed the incident and posted it on YouTube, where it went viral. He only got help after running to the attendant station, where he was at first ignored. The attendant “didn’t call 911 until my brother was bleeding and pounding on the kiosk,” said the reader.

Metro called it “an unfortunate incident.”

(This and the other video in this article may be NSFW.)


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After that video appeared, another, posted online a few days earlier, started getting attention. It shows another fight at the same station.

In addition, in early December, one member of a group of teenagers on a Red Line train threw a jug of iced tea in the face of an older rider, breaking the man’s nose. The teens started laughing and exited the train. When passengers briefly pursued them, the teens responded with jeers and slurs.

And of course these incidents all follow on a huge melee at the Bethesda Metro station on a Sunday morning last July, during which one man’s head was stomped on before he fell onto the tracks just a minute before a train arrived, and the 70-person brawl at L’Enfant Plaza about a month later.

Where is all this violence coming from? And, beyond putting more MTPD cops in the stations, what can be done about it?

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

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