Monday night saw yet another violent attack and mugging go down in the Castro.
Around 9PM, Dalton Huckaby, popular personal trainer and 2013 Bare Chest Calendar participant, was on his way home from work walking down 17th Street near Noe St speaking to a friend on his iPhone 5 when it was cruelly torn from his hand by a thief who ran off with the phone at a break neck pace.
The criminal who snagged the phone-5' 7" to 5' 8", sporting a black hoodie/dark clothes-used his running start and sneak attack to prevent Mr. Huckaby from being able to describe him beyond generalities.
Mr. Huckaby isn't what you'd imagine most criminals would point to as an 'easy target'. Well built and confident in his movements he immediately reacted and started to chase after the mugger.
Before he'd taken a few steps however he found himself attacked by a second, unseen assailant from behind, who blindsided and knocked him forcefully to the ground . Mr Huckaby slammed the pavement hard suffering bad scrapes and bruises to his face and hand. He lay stunned and disoriented from the surprise cold-cocking.
By the time he regained his composure the second culprit, described as a skinny, 5'10", Anglo in a black hoodie with a possible baseball type cap, dark clothes and 'tweaker' mannerisms, was hovering near by under a tree obscuring a clear shot of his face from Dalton's view. He was gripping something in his hand. Mr. Huckaby believed there was a decent chance it was a gun or other weapon.
Smartly choosing not to confront a thief who might be armed, and fearing for his life, Mr. Huckaby withdrew while his cowardly batterer faded into the night.
Kind neighbors hearing the commotion came to his aid and the police were notified. SFPD responded quickly, within five minutes, but, by then both robbers were long gone.
This attack follows a string of, as yet-to our knowledge-unsolved, Castro neighborhood robberies the Biscuit has posted about since December. Car jacking, false imprisonment/kidnapping pistol-whipping at Hartford/18th, stabbing/robbery at 14th/Noe and two armed robberies at different locals on 18th St. in February.
The City-to it's credit-has taken notice and initiated steps to combat the surge in crime.
Safety meetings and public, town hall forums-the last one in January-have been held with the enthusiastic cooperation of SFPD captains, Dist. 8 Sup. Wiener, members of the DA, the Stop Violence Project and the community at large around the issue.
SFPD has recently started posting signs at police stations, according to a Mar. 7th blurb from the B.A.R., designating them 'LGBT Safe Space' in an effort help victims feel more reassured and confident about reporting these events.
Despite these combined, concerted efforts it seems to most casual observers the crime problem in the Castro continues unchecked and is more violent with each incident.
City officials have put out warnings repeatedly regarding use of electronic devices while walking and on MUNI-especially at night-as bandits are increasingly targeting the unaware who're momentarily caught up in their mobile media content making them easy marks..
Sharp increases in violent thefts like the one Mr. Huckaby found himself at the center of prompted SFPD to send out patrols-all be it mostly during daylight hours-on bus and underground lines in neighborhoods with higher rates of these incidents warning citizens of the danger.
Castro Community on Patrol has also been working diligently to help abate the problem by updating their website with information and assisting the community and police in any way they can.
Perhaps it's time we, as a community, started to look for alternatives to solve this issue. Working together has always been the LGBTQ's strong suit when faced with any foe, attacks or threats.
During 80's and 90's Castro residents were perceived as easy targets by criminals. Hate crimes, random attacks, muggings and robbery were all to common place.
Instead of just relying on overtaxed, City supplied, resources a community response campaign organized by Community United Against Violence (CUAV) was put into play.
The simple idea: Give everyone a whistle. If you get attacked blow it loud and continuously as you try to get away. If you saw someone being attacked blow it. Hear the sound of a whistle blow? Blow yours and run to their aid not away from it. The whistles created a cacophony of noise as each person who heard the shrill tweet added their whistle's voice alerting everyone and anyone there was a problem. Simple, creative, genius.
A united attitude to trouble rather than ignoring it or waiting for someone else to solve it had an immediate and community galvanizing impact. People felt safer, more confident with the knowledge they weren't out in the dark on their own and people had their backs.
A sharp decrease in crime was noted within the first month of its use and by the end of the first year attacks of this nature had dwindled to next to none.
It's time for more of this kind of safety innovation in addition to the City's efforts and we, the people, need to lead that charge.
In an effort to better serve and assist our readers the Biscuit has assembled some simple ideas on how to stay safe while out on the town or in the neighborhood and contact numbers to call if you need help. Please take a second to look them over.
If anyone observed the attack on Mr. Huckaby (or any of the other incidents we've referenced in this post) please contact SFPD. You can do it anonymously if you so choose.