When a woman in her mid-30s went for a recent jog in Riverside Park, she found herself to be the target of harassment by a group of teenage boys.
The incident took place on December 19 at 1:00 p.m. near West 89th Street. The woman, who we’ll refer to as “Emma” as she requested her name be kept private, said there were probably ten boys in the group, and they appeared to be between 13 and 16 years old.
Emma said they followed her and pushed her from behind, and when she tried to leave, they came even closer and shouted profanities at her. One of the smaller and younger-looking boys hit her in the face, took her hat, and tried to provoke her into a fight.
While Emma is Asian, she told us there weren’t any racial slurs thrown at her. “I can confirm that I did not hear them say anything related to my race during the incident — I do not believe it would be considered a hate crime. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that there’s no racial bias involved though.”
Following the initial encounter, a fellow jogger asked if she was okay and began to walk her out of the park. Emma says the group then followed them and began throwing bottles in their direction.
She took a video of the boys as she was leaving.
After the incident, Emma called the police from the corner of 86th and West End Avenue. While she was waiting for officers from the 24th Precinct to arrive – which she noted took 40 minutes – she saw the same group of boys across the street. (They didn’t follow her all the way there, she just saw them on this corner after the incident.)
Here’s a closeup of the kid who hit her, whom she describes as less than 5 feet tall with short, dark curly hair. He was wearing a purple hat at the time.
Once the police arrived, they informed her that because she wasn’t injured, the incident would be classified as harassment, not assault. Emma also said the officers weren’t interested in seeing her video, even though there aren’t surveillance cameras where the incident took place.
Emma then contacted the office of Council Member Gale Brewer, who wrote a letter on her behalf to both the commanding officer of the 24th Precinct, Inspector Naoki Yuguchi, and John Herrold, Administrator of Riverside Park. Gale said in the letter that she was “concerned that it took NYPD 40 minutes to respond; and [Emma] was surprised that NYPD officers did not want a copy of her video of the youth who surrounded her.”
We followed up on her complaint with emails to the 24th Precinct and Riverside Park Conservancy, but neither email elicited a response. However, since our inquiry, the 24th Precinct followed up with Emma and is now reviewing the materials to track down the kids.
A neighbor believed they recognized one of the kids as a student of the nearby Frank McCourt High School on 84th Street. As schools are currently closed for the holidays, though, we were unable to connect with anyone there.
Emma has not returned to Riverside Park since the incident occurred.