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Michael Maiello's picture

Homes and Castles

This morning, as I was walking to the gym, I passed a small apartment building, nestled amongst the townhouses of West 10th street.  From somewhere on the upper floors of the building I heard a woman shouting and finally screaming.  First it was "Leave me alone!"  Then it was "Get off of me!  Get off of me!"  This was punctuated by screams, but they sounding like shrieks of anger rather than terror or pain, though it takes a lot of assumptions to get to that judgment.

I stopped and listened.  The argument ceased.  There were plenty of conclusions to jump to.  It sounded like an adult woman yelling and she sounded desperate, angry or afraid.  But it's impossible to tell.  Was it domestic violence? Or a brother and sister arguing over getting up to take a shower before they head to school?  Or was it an intense but ultimately nonviolent argument.  If a woman had just told her boyfriend to "get off of me," and he disembarked for the kitchen, what business of it was mine?  Or did I just hear a fight that I chose to do nothing about.

I keep assuming that the person being told to "get off of me," was a husband or boyfriend.  That could be entirely wrong.  It could have been another woman.  It could have been a parent or a sibling.

It presented something of a dilemma for me.  I did have my cell phone in hand, and I waited awhile.  If I had heard anything that convinced me of ongoing violence, I'd have called the police.  I thought about yelling up to the apartment, to see if everyone was all right, or if they'd answer.  It seemed possible that even jut knowing that their argument had carried out onto the street might have ended it.  But it's also possible that an unwanted intrusion from the outside might have made things worse.  Shame and embarrassment can be unpredictable motivators.

Besides, the person yelling was yelling at somebody inside the apartment.  She was not calling for help.  So I lingered a few moments and then I moved on.  I hope that was the right decision.  I think it was.

It's a hard call, Destor.  If you could hear it that well, they must have had a window or a door open, which seems odd and somehow lessens the idea of real danger.  Anybody on the street could have heard it and called the police. The aggressor had to know that.

I think I would have done what you did:  listen a little longer to see if it escalated and if it did, then call for help.

Over 40 years ago, my husband and I saw a man hit a woman and shove her into their car.  She was screaming, but not yelling for help.  It was a domestic dispute and not a kidnapping, but we still remember how we felt when it was happening.  What should we do?  In the end we did nothing, but the feeling that we should have never went away.

I can understand your unease.  We see stories every day of anger getting out of hand and creating yet another victim.  We all would like to think we can do something to stop it.

If you did call the cops, and they responded by tasing you, frisking you, cracking your skull with a bean bag, arresting and booking you for outstanding tickets (which you had already paid), and/or doing the same to whoever was yelling in the apartment, and perhaps a couple more in the stairwells, would the Trope have a story of how it happened to him or a friend of his, that it's just SOP, and you were dumb to report it?

This really seems like you're just wanting an excuse to insult Trope…

All of the police actions I mentioned have been done by cops, in Oakland, Seattle or NYC.  Cops in NYC, Seattle and Oakland are under court order and/or DOJ investigations due to excessive use of force and/or other violations of federal law. Trope has defended the cops in almost every instance, with excuses like the ones above. One could take mentioning that in the form of a question, as an insult, or as sarcasm. It was meant as the latter.

Anyone calling the cops might want to consider if the cops in their city, or town, are going to calm a situation, or make it worse.

"We called for help and they killed him."
http://www.raven1.net/mcf/news/plea-turns-deadly.htm.

Honestly, the potential for police over-reaction was a factor in my not calling them.

If I was on a website like RedState I would probably be called out for always attacking the police.  I tend to point out the perspective from law enforcement because the other perspective is being presented at this site.  It isn't that I believe all police or police departments are innocent, nor do I believe those who have committed actual crimes should be allowed to skip free simply because they are law enforcement officers.  I applaud the DOJ investigations or any other investigations into allegations of misconduct. 

I do believe individual law enforcement officers should be given the same consideration of innocent before proven guilty.  Your rants tend to come across as someone who believes 98% of police officers wake up in the morning rubbing their hands in glee over the fact that they will have the opportunity to crack some skulls.  There are definitely sadists who find their way onto the force, and they need to be weeded out, and dealt with appropriately.

There are definitely police departments which have developed and facilitated an organizational culture, not to mention in some cases protocols, which are unethical, immoral racist, sexist, etc not to mention illegal.  Again, this has to be approached from the innocent until proven guilty.  Moreover, it is unlikely that for an entire law enforcement agency to be guilty.  It may be 75% bad apples.  We need to try to avoid painting the good 25% as bad in the process.

Maybe folks like NCD believe that if we just got rid of the police, there wouldn't be any crime.  The reality, of course, as folks like NCD know deep down, we do need have law enforcement agencies from the local to the federal level, we need to have ones who are effective.  Maybe folks like NCD believe Sicily can't happen here, but it can and has. 

Law enforcement agencies and the people who walk their hallways reflect our society - the good and the bad and the mediocre.  Like all institutions it can be improved.  Approaching it from some overthetop ideological frenzy isn't going to help do that.

The Kitty Genovese Dilemma.

Tough call.

Police who get called to domestic violence situations, I hear, often get attacked themselves.

Well, I also lacked a lot of information... It may well have been nothing but a particularly emotional moment.  For all I know, the two people would be horrified to learn that a passerby almost got the police involved, potentially messing up their lives for weeks or even months.

Kitty Genovese has been disproven - only about 1 person that night had any idea something serious was going on (they lived above a rowdy bar) and a couple did call the police.

Most accounts say there were six witnesses, but only four were called in the trial. One man saw her get stabbed in the first attack, and shouted out the window, another man saw her get stabbed when the serial murderer returned.

When I was about 21 or 22, I was working in a pizza shop one night.  The back of the shop opened up onto a large courtyard surrounded by apartment buildings (Think Rear Window, but a little bigger.)  One of my co-workers and I were working out near the back and heard some loud domestic yelling and semi-screaming going on in an apartment across the courtyard, a man and a woman.  We listened for a while, but it didn't seem to be abating on its own and eventually I yelled out, "Hey over there, knock it off!"  The guy actually yelled back something like "Shut the fuck up; it's none of your fucking business!"  And then we both yelled, "If you don't knock it off we're calling the cops!"  And the noise then completely desisted.

But there were 100s of people around, and a crowded pizza shop full of people in between me and the guy if he had decided to come over and make an issue of it.  I'm not sure I would have said anything if I were alone and in a more vulnerable position.

 "Hey over there, knock it off!" "If you don't knock it off we're calling the cops!" 

Wouldn't it be nice; in todays abbreviated world of texting, maybe you could just yell “Cops

Maybe the term would cause one,  to consider their next move.

Or people could carry a big loud whistle and blow it, arousing the perpetrators to consider;  stop doing and take notice. 

The two arguing. wouldn't know if you were calling your dog or calling for help.

Besides everyone should carry a whistle for emergencies. it beats screaming because it takes less breath.  Especially in Earthquake or disaster prone areas.   

It's tough, as I know anyone who hears yelling from our house could wonder what the hell is going on half the time. (Yeah, I wish things were calmer, but ....)

I remember a young couple upstairs when I was in school, 2 medical interns, and they would have the damndest fights, the girl coming out and shrieking and kicking the railings and such.

And often these situations work themselves out without any real danger.

Then again, I have broken up violence on the street, using my car as a convenient weapon/protection.

And called the cops on people beating each other in front of a bar, only to see them make up and go in arms around shoulders as I was talking to the dispatcher.

 

The level of violence (verbal, emotional and physical) that some people find to be normal (ie just the way things are) sometimes is rather jaw dropping.  Those who are caught up in abusive relationships can act in "strange" ways. 

I once lived next to a couple who were constantly fighting.  It was one of those relationships where half the time she did more damage to him (including throwing him through a window once).  One night, she had locked him out, and he, stumbling around outside drunk, was screaming over and over "Open the door b-----! I'm going to f---ing kill you!"  So we called the cops, as did the people who lived in the unit below them. 

When he saw the police car rolling up to the sidewalk, he ran to the front door and banged on it, shouting "open the door, it's the cops".  She did and he ran upstairs to their unit.  The cops saw this and pounded on the now locked front door for her to open it up.  She wouldn't so they kicked down the door (of which I'm sure NCD would disapprove), went upstairs, and dragged him from his hiding place in a closet (we were able to watch from one of our roommates' rooms which had a view into their place).  They cuffed him and took him off to jail.  Moments later, a cab pulled up and she jumped in to go bail him out of jail.

I think you should have called the cops. It's an expression of concern. Granted, you don't know what the situation was, but that's what the police are supposed to figure out when they get there. In some cases you can even ask for a call back or info about how the situation resolved.

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