New York subway riders, famous for their ability to ride for miles in crowded cars without speaking to each other or making eye contact, came out of hibernation with a vengeance over the weekend in an attack on an alleged groper whose takedown has become a YouTube hit.
It happened Friday night at the Lorimer Street station in Brooklyn, which serves both the G and the L trains. "He groped me!" a woman shrieked at a man who entered the L train. According to local news reports, the woman had just emerged from a G train when she was grabbed on the platform by the perpetrator, who had apparently planned on melting into the crowd.
After she followed him onto the L train and pointed him out, two male passengers began struggling with the accused, who hung tight onto a railing as the men tried to pull him off the train. "This boy's strong!" one man is heard exclaiming as the fight goes on, the alleged groper wrapping his arms around a metal pole while others try to pry him off of it.
They eventually hauled him off the train and onto the platform as other passengers applauded. Minutes later, transit police showed up and took the 30-year-old man into custody on charges of forcible touching.
By Monday morning, the video had been viewed more than 72,000 times on YouTube (be warned that the video includes what sounds like some coarse language), and local news reports of the incident were sparking discussion on whether it amounted to vigilante justice or a refreshing display of community spirit. Most appeared to come down on the side of the crowd that hauled the alleged groper off the train and stood guard until police arrived.
“Fantastic, it’s about time New Yorkers got involved. It’s really about time,” Ingrid Meah told the local CBS TV station.
In the spring, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which oversees the subway system, reported a spike in crime over the previous year. It attributed most of the increase to people snatching cellphones and other gadgets from sleeping or inattentive riders.
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