The subway in New York City has always had a reputation for danger and crime. In the late 70s and early 80s, the subway was known for being one of the most dangerous places in the city. (1) Though there have been many improvements to the safety of the trains since then, the recent uptick in crime on the underground trains has citizens baffled and afraid. The latest of these shows a man violently grabbing a woman by the hair, while bystanders look on stunned and unsure how to help.
Crime On NYC Subway Caught On Camera
It is not an unusual occurrence to see some pretty crazy characters on any public transit system around the world. The NYC subway, however, definitely has some of the craziest. This, combined with the recent increase in violent crime on the subway, has many citizens afraid to continue using the trains.
Last month, Reddit user riverdale-74 posted a video to the Reddit forum CrimeInNYC titled “subway maniac”. The video first begins with the man storming around the car shouting expletives. Next, the man goes over to sit down on some of the seats. Many people quickly try to get out of the manic man’s way, but the woman he sat down closest to wasn’t quite quick enough. (2)
In the video, you can see the woman get up to move farther away from the man. He then grabs her hair and pulls her back down to stay seated next to him. Throughout the entire scene, he continues to scream largely unintelligible words. He continues to maintain his firm grasp on the woman’s hair. Visibility in tears, the woman can be seen mouthing “help me” to the other passengers on the train. No one, however, comes to her aid.
Eventually, he stands up and pulls her to the back of the car, still by her hair, where he finally lets go and leaves her be. He continues to storm around the train and even begins kicking at the windows of the car. Finally, they arrive at the next stop where he exits the train.
Subway Safety In NYC
This latest incident has just re-sparked the conversation about the need to make the NYC subway safer for riders. Crime on the city’s subway system, particularly violent crime, has seen a huge jump this year. Not long before this most recent attack, a man randomly opened fire on the Q train, killing a 48-year-old man on his way home from work. In April another man opened fire on the Manhattan-bound N train during the morning commute. Though there were many injuries, thankfully no one was killed. (3)
Better Not To Get Involved
On the Reddit forum, many were discussing crime on the New York subway and why the bystanders didn’t do anything. Many people were quick to judge the other riders for not doing anything while the woman was quite obviously in distress. Just as quickly, however, long-time NYC residents and subway riders stepped in to defend the actions (or rather, lack of action) of the others on the train.
“Middle aged life-long Brooklynite here. You are 100% correct. It’s so easy for everyone to say what they are going to do until they are in the situation. In this case the crazy person merely pulled her hair. I wouldn’t have intervened either, because it could have caused them to really go nuts and actually hurt her. Better to sit and wait. This is just wisdom that you have as a New Yorker. I guarantee that if he threw her down or hit her that people would have jumped in. That’s been my experience.” said one user.
“i feel like the thing to do is not escalate the situation. It was rough watching everyone do nothing once he put hands on someone. But that person was obviously on a hair trigger and acting erratically to every sound and movement people were making. Everyone was still and watching to make sure she was ok. Everyone froze, at least so he wouldn’t react, and you could see the slight ease in tension once he got up and let her go. That was the ultimate goal, and everyone did their part to at least not interrupt that happening.” said another.
Just another day in new york city safest subway system, where innocent people are being harassed and assaulted.— Joel Fischer 🇺🇸 (@realJoelFischer) May 25, 2022
But the mayor wants you to ride the subway instead of driving, to save the environment. pic.twitter.com/9FfVzfzLoC
What Is The Right Thing To Do?
Many others talked about how perhaps it would’ve been better if some of the larger men on the train got together and acted. They argued that two or three bigger men could have likely taken on the much smaller man without much trouble. Still, many others maintained that not acting was the better move, as people such as this person who are not in their right mind are unpredictable and much harder to control than you may think.
“Looking at this video I ask myself, what would I do and from here I think, yeah I would do something. But it’s very different when you are in that car. It’s not so much because of fear, it’s because of experience. You do not want to escalate that situation. Dealing physically with someone who is mentally ill, no matter their size is not something you can just do,” explained another. “I’m a native new yorker and have been riding the subways since I was 10. I’ve seen crazies, but never seen someone actually put their hands on another rider. After seeing this video I would think very hardly about when and where to step in, but there is a point where I do think you do step in, but that’s not something a bunch of people on Reddit can figure out from a distance.”
All in all, everyone – Reddit users and New York citizens – agree that something needs to be done about Subway crime. Crime, especially violent crime, simply cannot continue to happen.
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- “Rare photos of the dangerous New York City’s subway system, 1970-1980.” Rare Historical Photos
- “‘Please help me’: Heartbreaking moment woman pleads with fellow NYC subway passengers to intervene as thug randomly assaults her – but they walk away.” Daily Mail. Ruth Bashinsky. May 28, 2022.