On Halloween Eve, I was attacked.
Thirty-six hours later I was talking about it publicly.
I was walking to a meeting from my office just before dusk October 30th. I was in another meeting on my cellphone as I walked, and dressed in a business suit. Most importantly, I walking in daylight, simply moving from Point A to Point B, minding my own business.
Within the next ten minutes, I had been attacked with raw eggs and oranges bulleted by several juveniles who appeared to have no agenda other than to cause mischief and randomly assault strangers unlucky enough to meander by their crosshairs. A flurry of events, then I am swarmed by around fifty teenagers and viciously punched boxer-hard in the face by a punk looking for (and delivering) trouble. Police respond, reluctantly write a report and then abandon me to walk the streets home by myself despite my emotional objections. Injured, traumatized, covered in now-dried raw eggs. Next day I am X-Rayed, prescribed meds, and nurse a swelling and misaligned jaw. I’ve lost a day of work, missed two meetings, paid medical co-pays and endured discomfort. Worst of all, I am now looking over my shoulder. All for—what? I can only imagine that my attacker received accolades from his “friends” for his incredibly heroic and inspiring act. His mother must be so proud. To hear the full account listen to my detailed account on the “Monkey Radio with Marc” podcast .
One related note–in New York, getting punched in the face (depending upon the circumstance, of course) seemingly equates to harassment, not assault. The puncher has to really do some lasting damage to elevate to the next level of crime. Interestingly, I was told by two NYPD officers that if I punch someone hard, and don’t break the skin or a bone—and only leave a bruise and swelling: Harassment. Upon further investigation, I firmly believe this was an act of assault as I had lasting considerable pain for days and a doctor’s examination confirmed damage.
It should be pointed out I am a man of reasonable stature, I have had training via the NYPD in hand-to-hand combat and I consider myself fairly street-wise. I have never been arrested, done any drugs and am an employed, productive, tax-paying contributing citizen who has volunteered many hours to serve charities and the public good. I am also a man of good sense and a rational thinker who can choose self-protection and avoidance over self-advocacy. I will not be embarrassed. I did nothing wrong, nothing to provoke an attack (an attack which could indeed have been racially motivated) and even people of power, strength, bravery and stature can be attacked—there is empirically no shame in admitting you were attacked or that you felt its impact.
I could have run, I could have kept quiet.
It has been more than seven years since I moved to New York City. No one should have to endure being attacked only to absurdly chalk it up as going with the territory of living in the New York area. I am tired of being assaulted by the arrogance, violence, selfishness, rudeness and physical imposition of countless punks, hoodlums and life-squanderers. One encounters many of them on a daily basis in the City.
I will not be assaulted as I merely walk home from work—-and accept it. I will not be punched in the face, for a thrill or gang points or because his mama was mean—and take it. I will not change my path in life or professional endeavors or my ability to sit in an empty seat on a train or traverse a public thoroughfare because of a self-serving, self-important lunatic—and tolerate it.
So those criminals who wasted good food at me, trying to hurt me—-I went after you. That lowlife who came forward, threatened me and then punched me in the face—I am not afraid of you, and the police are looking for you. I cannot wait to look you in the eye again. And the police who made me feel like I was disposable after I was assaulted—-I will do my best to make sure commanding officers are informed (to whatever end). Primarily, I will not be intimidated. The 1992 riots are over.
On my podcast, Monkey Radio with Marc, we often talk about the actual events in our own lives. I could not allow this significant event in my life to go unmentioned. The hardest part was admitting the fear I felt, and feel. The anxiety of walking down the streets I must walk daily. The fact that “I do not feel safe anymore” now blends with “I won’t let your selfish, violent act change my life” to make a biting recipe of inner turmoil.
Even as my swollen, misaligned jaw struggled with talking though an entire program less than two days after the incident, I needed to share the raw feelings and memories of the event while they were fresh and visceral.
Already I have had people ask me if I will proceed in the event the attacker is identified. Shouldn’t I fade into the shadows and allow him to go free for fear of vengeance by him or his perverse supporters?
Maybe I can take a shuttle across town so I don’t have to risk walking through those streets, caring people have offered.
Why would I speak or write about this publicly? What if someone who was involved in the incident hears and knows who I am?
To all of these well-intentioned but misguided suggestions and concerns I say: never.
If every man ever attacked, far worse than I was, ducked to the darkness and hid from view, the terrorist (yes, I feel that word is appropriate) succeeds.
If every woman who was raped or beaten collapsed in perpetual silence, the agents of evil will do it again and again, and that is when we are saying “yes”, when we are saying “it is permitted to do this”.
I will not run, or keep quiet. I will instead be free. I will shout and scream and go where I will and do what I should. I will be brave.
After all, I have been told many times that this is the land of the free. And the home of the brave.