Making it Our Business

On January 28, 2010 Aiesha Steward-Baker was attacked in the Seattle tunnel. She was punched, stomped, and kicked by another 15 year old girl acting with a larger group. These facts alone are scary enough. However, the story gets worse. Aiesha was shopping in Macy’s when a boy from the group moved closer to her with his fists balled. She asked the Seattle police for help several times before leaving the store. The police told the boy and the rest of the group to leave the store but ignored Aiesha when she insisted they would be waiting outside the store for her. In an interview, Aiesha stated that “I was trying to explain that the kids were following and threatening me, which both officers witnessed, but the police officer just wasn’t listening.”

Aiesha was attacked after exiting the store into the Seattle tunnel. She was attacked in front of three security guards and multiple other citizens. You’re probably wondering how many people helped her. The answer is zero. Nobody helped Aiesha. Apparently there is a policy for security personnel in the tunnel that they can call for help but cannot intervene. This makes me wonder about some things. At what point does the gravity of the situation unfolding in front of you trump the policy at your job? At what point did policymakers feel it was a good idea to enact such a policy?

Unfortunately, nobody can change what happened to Aiesha. What we can do is focus on what we will do going forward, how we will live our lives, and how we will treat other people. I genuinely believe that we are all here to look out for each other and that should be reflected in our behavior and policies. Think how much safer we would all be if everyone decided to have each other’s backs. Think of Aiesha and how different her situation could have been if the policies in the Seattle tunnel reflected that attitude. Going forward, when we see a serious situation that could benefit from our intervention, I say we make that situation our business and lend a helping hand to keep each other safe.

To view the full story, including video follow this link.

Security?

In the grand tradition of this wonderful holiday weekend I was spending some quality time recovering on my couch, next to the fire, sifting through decorations. I was hoping someone had started to air “A Christmas Story” and was flipping through the channels when I came across the show “I Survived”. The episode featured a young lawyer named Jennifer Morey.

Jennifer lived alone and chose her apartment complex, in part, because of the protection provided by on site security guards. She was just starting her career, working long and late hours and always felt safe knowing a guard was there.

That safety was tested on April 15, 1995 when she awoke to find a man on top of her. She realized she was going to be raped and began to fight her attacker, a man who used her first name, but whom she did not recognize. During the struggle her attacker cut her throat almost from ear to ear. He then pulled her off the bed and threw her in the bathroom. Likely believing she would bleed to death, he told her to stay in there. Even after putting up such a fight and losing blood quickly, Jennifer was still able to use her lower body strength to keep the door closed with her feet until she believed her attacker had left and would not come for her again. She then ran from the bathroom and called 911.

Richard Everett was the dispatcher who picked up the line and together they began to try to save Jennifer’s life. He told her to add pressure to the wound, that help was on the way and tried to keep her calm. During the call, Jennifer heard a knock at the door. The man identified himself as Bryan Gibson, the security guard on duty. Jennifer told Richard that it was security and asked if she should open the door. The advice he gave her at that moment, based on intuition, was likely the most crucial thing he did that saved her life that night…DO NOT open the door.

Fortunately, Jennifer did not have to wait too long as police and ambulance arrived shortly after. They were greeted by the on duty security guard Bryan Gibson, who told them that he too had fought off the attacker after he escaped from Jennifer’s apartment. After reviewing the crime scene and Gibson’s injuries it wasn’t long before police realized that it was Gibson who was the attacker. He had left behind some crucial items at the scene. It’s believed he went back to Jennifer’s apartment when he realized this. To this day, Jennifer believes she would have been killed had she opened that door.

This may not have been the wonderful holiday movie I was searching for, but this story really stuck with me. Richard Beckett had no reason to think that the man at the door, whose job it was to protect the complex, was there to cause any harm. His intuition and quick thinking kept Jennifer safe.

Jennifer survived and began to rebuild her life. She won a civil lawsuit against the security company Gibson, who had twice been re-assigned because of behavior issues, worked for. In fact, from 1991- 1995 this security firm employed 130 guards that had felony records ( I’ll spend a little time on that in a future post). She is now a successful lawyer with her own practice. She met and married the man of her dreams a few years after the attack.

 Richard Beckett was at her wedding and they remain close friends to this day…