In aftermath of Stanford case, let’s look out for each other

I’m writing this quickly as I am on my way to a meeting. But I had to get my thoughts down … apologies if it seems hurried.

Driving to meet Quinn to run today, I had the radio tuned to NPR where the talk centered around the Stanford case, rape on campus, and our roles as community members to protect each other. I certainly was listening, thinking back to my own college days, thinking about how we as humans look out for each other (or, should).

It seemed interesting timing for me to hear that radio show. I didn’t realize that just a few moments later, Quinn and I would be those community members for someone.

We set out on our regular run route along the light rail in Southend Charlotte. It’s a safe area.

So, when we got to the light rail turnaround point 1.5 miles in, I didn’t think much of it when Quinn decided to tempo run her way back to the end. I waved her on and told her I’d meet her at the end. A mile later, just as I was giving myself the final push to finish up strong, my phone rang.

I always send calls to voicemail but when I saw it was Quinn calling me, my alarm bells went off. She of all people wouldn’t be calling me NOW unless something was going on.

I answered the phone just to hear her say “Be careful at the light rail stop by the water fountain. I just saw a man hurt a woman there.”

That’s precisely the area I was coming up on. “Ok, I told her, I’ll be careful and I’ll cross to the other side [of the light rail].” She got off the phone to call our police friend to see what we should do.

I kept running, approaching cautiously, and I didn’t see anyone on “our” side of the light rail. I did, however, see a man with a backpack on the other side. I hesitated to cross, thinking what if that man is the one she warned me about and the girl had already left? I kicked myself for not having asked for a physical description.

Since the side I was running on seemed to be empty, I thought maybe the entire group had left so I would just power through. Although, as I came up on one of the benches in front of the light rail, I realized I had made a mistake in not crossing. A man, flanked by two women wearing identical outfits, sat on the bench and gave me a death stare as I ran by. Given the expression on his face, I knew it had to be the people Quinn was talking about. Very chilling.

I ran as quickly as I could to find her; our police friend didn’t answer and another one told us to call 911, so we did. They said they were sending someone out there to check it out.

I fear that it may be a case of domestic violence, in which case, maybe the woman won’t press charges and there’s nothing that can be done. But Quinn saw him grab her arm and twist it behind her, and then he threw a rock at her. So maybe the police showing up is just what she needs.

Either way, it took me back to that radio program and of our roles as humans to be good champions for each other. I feel for that woman on the light rail and on Stanford’s campus. I feel for the woman who was raped at 2am on Montford Drive in Charlotte last week, and my heart goes out to her as people ask “What was she doing walking alone at 2am?” instead of asking “What was he doing raping her?”

The world is a scary place; let’s look out for each other.