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Park Slope Reacts to 16th Street Sexual Assault

Councilmember Brad Lander, Safe Slope and Brooklyn Bike Patrol express concern about Wednesday's sexual assault on 16th Street.

Hours after the , neighborhood watch organizations and Councilmember Brad Lander responded with solidarity for the victim.

According to police, a Hispanic male approached a woman from behind on 16th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues and groped her in the area of her "front midsection" at around 5:20 a.m.

Officials from the 72nd precinct said they are reviewing surveillance video from the area during the time of the reported incident.  

Councilmember Brad Lander, D-Park Slope, said that the sexual assault, which occurred in , means there is work to be done.

“Sexual assault is a vicious reminder of the work we still need to do to end injustice that targets a person’s gender or sexuality,” Lander told Patch. “As a community and as individuals we need to support the victims of sexual violence and demand that attackers are brought to justice.”

Last year’s attacks, on 16th Street, spurred multiple grassroots organizations focused on protecting women in Park Slope and the surrounding neighborhoods. Safe Slope, which was founded in August 2011, is a group that provides services like safe walks home and other resources to empower women.

A founding member, Jessica Silk, said that she was upset to hear about the 16th St. attack.

“We are outraged to hear that a woman was recently attacked on 16th St...This incident is an unfortunate reminder about how important it is for the community to come together to respond to and prevent violence,” Silk said.

“Safe Slope plans to raise awareness of this incident and remind residents about our Safe Walk program and other resources, like RightRides and the Center for Antiviolence Education.”

Silk said that anyone who needs a “Safe Walk” home should contact Safe Slope, click here to go to their website. She also said that they are constantly looking for volunteers. 

Liza Trinkle, another founding member, is also disturbed about the attack.

“Everyone involved in Safe Slope is dismayed by news of this latest attack,” Trinkle said. “Right now we are focused on spreading awareness about the assault and reminding people about local resources (Safe Walk, Right Rides, and Brooklyn Bike Patrol for example) that might prove helpful.”

Brooklyn Bike Patrol—founded by in September 2011 and now offers free —was out at the Prospect Ave. R train subway station on Wednesday night near the site of the attack passing out fliers and offering safe escorts home.

Ruiz said that he and his crew of volunteers are going to be “visible” throughout the neighborhood and since an attack has struck, they will be out there protecting women.

“We’re always on duty, even though we might not be visible, we are always on duty. We haven’t been visible because there hasn’t been no need, there hasn’t been any attacks,” Ruiz explained. “Now that this has happened we will be visible again.”

Although Ruiz has a passion for protecting the women of Brooklyn, he said he is very upset about the attack.

“I am not happy about it, but I want to guarantee to the people of Park Slope and all of the surrounding neighborhoods that we will be around and visible starting tonight and we will not stop,” Ruiz said.

But all the groups expressed concern about initial reports about how the responding officers from the 72nd precinct first handled the attack on Wednesday, which authorities said they are investigating.

According to officers of the 72nd precinct, the victim was not at the scene when police arrived. The person who called 911 said they knew where the victim was and that they would bring her to the police.

The cops reported that they left the scene after waiting "for some time," but were called back a little while later by the same caller. However, the victim was still not present. The officers left again and no arrests have been made.

Safe Slope said that they are also upset about the alleged actions of the police:

“We are glad to hear that the perpetrator ran away when she screamed and that a number of neighbors came to her aide, but we are once again disappointed in the police's response to sexual assault,” Silk said.

Trinkle said that she believes the 72nd precinct’s response “seems to be negligible.” 

However, Safe Slope applauded the residents of 16th Street, which witnesses said came to the woman’s aide after she screamed and even pursued the suspect.

“We are glad that the residents of 16th Street responded swiftly to the survivor's cry for help,” Trinkle said.

Ruiz said that Brooklyn Bike Patrol is dedicated to keeping Park Slope’s women safe.

“I want to cut it off at the head, there are not going to be a bunch of attacks this year,” Ruiz said. “We are going to be out there.”

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Aaron Brashear May 24, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Agreed 100%. Once again the 72nd Pct. is more concerned with the southern end of the dist. more than the northern area. Same thing as last spring/summer. An now we can commence with the same discussions, meetings, new groups formed, etc. and nothing has changed. Sad state of affairs, but not surprising.
rich May 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Asking for more cops is not going to do anything, people being more vigilant in their everyday lives will do more than if they flooded the area with cops. In one of the attacks last year 6 cops were at the train station on 39th St & 4th Ave and an attack occurred a few blocks away and the guy still got away. These people know the area and know how to prey on people. This is not a thrill seeker or first timer this guy has been doing this a while and knows his victims (not personally but as a predator) and chooses them carefully. Cops can't be everywhere but we gotta be more aware of the criminals and how they act and counter that behavior. We gotta be careful out there.
Aaron Brashear May 24, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Rich, correct and not correct. You already have a neighborhood that has been on high alert since last spring. Community groups have facilitated "best practices" (some of which you have outlined above, and certainly did not come from the 72nd Pct until we raised a ruckus) and groups like Safe Slope have formed. Hundreds of women have taken self defense classes. So your observation is not 100% correct. Increased police presence keeps these dudes away, read the pres from last summer, but this only happened after the community went nuts on the 72nd Pct. Now we're back to the same thing. More "visual" presence, just seeing more patrols would make a huge difference, will keep this predators away.
james May 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I've got to agree about the need for more patrols.
jill May 30, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Too many haves and have nots in the area and the haves do not get it. They need to be more aware. Agree with Aaron and Rich's comments


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