Quick thinking teen helps nab a subway masturbator

October 6, 2010

Jiang's cell phone. Image via NY Post

Here’s a victory, pick-me-up kind of street harassment story.

Seventeen-year-old Annie Jiang was standing on an N train in New York when she realized a man was masturbating against her back. She took a cell phone picture of him and when she got to high school, told the dean. The dean called the police.

The next day she spotted him again at the Eighth Avenue stop. This time a detective was with her and arrested him. Daniel Barricella, 59, of Brooklyn, was charged with public lewdness, sex abuse and harassment.

Via the NY Post:

“Jiang said she was glad she can ride the train again in peace.

‘I was scared,’ she said. ‘He didn’t look creepy; he just looked like a normal man. I reported it to the police to keep him off the streets, so he can’t do it to anybody else. The technology really makes a difference.’

Jiang, the dean, and the police force are super stars!! Woohoo! Take that harasser.

As Jiang noted, it can be very scary when you’re being harassed, and if you’re too afraid or feel unsafe to do something at the time, reporting is a great option. As this story shows, it can make a difference.

(Thanks for the tip, Violet)

Flashers, masturbators, and gropers beware

August 9, 2010

Guys who feel like masturbating, flashing, or groping people on the subway better think twice unless they want to get caught and charged with a crime. Thanks to cell phone cameras, it’s easier than ever for people to snap photos of perpetrators and report the crimes.

HollaBack NYC has long advocated for the use of cell phone pictures to shame harassers and report those who cross the line to criminal activity. In fact, the idea for the blog was born after a woman in NYC used her cell phone to snap a picture of a subway masturbator and report him.

[Update: If you’re in the Astoria area of NYC, look out for this alleged subway sexual assaulter and if you see him, contact the police. The woman snapped his picture and has reported him]

A few months ago in Washington, D.C., a photo of a metro station upskirter and groper posted on HollaBack DC! helped lead to his arrest.


And now in Boston, CNN reports that a MBTA rider’s cell phone picture posted on Twitter led to the arrest of a subway flasher.

“Rider Nay Khun was riding the train Wednesday afternoon when he spotted the suspect ‘fidgeting with his crotch area with his zipper open and his penis exposed,’ according to the MBTA.

Khun immediately posted to his Twitter account a photo of the man, saying ‘pervert on the 2nd car of the red line … help me report him.’

The man is a known offender, MBTA police told CNN affiliate WHDH.

He was arrested Friday for open and gross lewdness, according to a statement from MBTA police.”

Nice work Khun and a big thank you to the Boston transit authority and police for taking this issue seriously.

No matter where you live, if you can, take pictures of harassers and post them online. If they grope, stalk, threaten, or masturbate at you, report them! Let’s use technology to our advantage and put these creeps on notice. They should know there will be consequences for their actions.

(Thanks Violet Kittappa, Director of Research and Development for Hollaback NYC, for the CNN story tip)

NYPD Officer Fail Re: Subway Masturbator

August 13, 2009

Thanks to the efforts of organizations like Holla Back NYC and RightRides several subway cars in New York City have anti-harassment ads that include text encouraging people to report harassers.

Image from NBC NY

Image from NBC NY

NBC New York is reporting that a woman who took a photo of a man who started masturbating in front of her on a northbound number 3 train (it was around 4 in the afternoon, no less) and reported it to a local precinct was told by the police officer that it wasn’t a police matter and to call 311. All one has to do is peruse a few stories on Holla Back NYC‘s website to realize that men masturbating on subways and at subway stations is a huge problem so this officer’s response to this woman’s efforts to report one of them one is disconcerting.

“The NYPD said internal affairs is looking into the matter.

‘Public lewdness’ is a misdemeanor that results in hundreds of arrests each year — a fact the cop apparently didn’t know.

‘It was a police matter and IAB is investigating why anyone would have been told otherwise,’ said police spokesman Paul Browne.

The incident comes as the police department has tried increase public awareness — and conviction — of sexual harassment on the subway.”

NBC posted the photo the woman took (see photo above, right) and said anyone with tips can call Crimestoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

If one police officer is unaware of the correct protocal for handling harassers like masturbators, there are likely others. Police officers MUST get educated about the pervasiveness and types of public harassment and assault and the impact they have on women’s every day lives. It takes a lot of time and energy and bravery to undertake reporting a harasser and when someone like this women makes that effort, she should be given proper help and support.

(And kudos to Holla Back NYC’s Emily May for a great quote in the Metro‘s article about this incident: “It’s an ongoing problem of the police showing insensitivity to harassment, lewdness and violence against women on subways…It discourages women from reporting.”)

Is he masturbating against you?

April 29, 2009

Sadie at Jezebel wrote a post yesterday about the  many times she’s been unsure whether or not a man standing by her on a crowded subway is masturbating against her.

She said, “After the fact, somehow, you’re always pretty sure. But at the time, there’s just enough doubt to make one’s course of action debatable. It’s not like being flashed, or getting stuck alone in a car with some guy jerking off which, while horrible, is pretty straightforward…”

My mother had this happen to her in New York City about two years ago. She also wasn’t sure if the man rubbing against her on the crowded subway was purposely doing so or if it was the result of a crowded car, until the car became less crowded and he was still doing it. And even then, she gave him the benefit of the doubt to the extent that she didn’t say anything to him.

It’s a tricky situation: no one wants to falsely accuse someone, but no one wants to just let that happen to them (or anyone else) either.

I’m reminded of various commenters on the recent Boston Globe article about the subway anti-groping campaign in Boston who were SO concerned that women were falsely accusing men left and right of being gropers when they probably were just getting bumped on a crowded train. From anecdotal evidence, I think most women will give questionable gropers and masturbators the benefit of the doubt so I think the fear of those men is largely unfounded. (And funny how that was their concern, instead of being concerned that enough women are getting groped on the subway that Boston had to create an anti-groping campaign…) The fear of being wrong probably keeps many women from doing anything about the questionable gropers and masturbators unless it becomes quite clear what is going on (like if he’s still doing it after the train clears).

Given this dilemma, what have you done if you’ve had a possible groper or masturbator make physical contact with you?

Sadie said she has been known to dig her high heel into a questionable harasser’s foot – and often he steps away from her. My mom reporter the man rubbing against her to the New York City Transit.