Victim Blaming NYPD Style in Park Slope, Brooklyn

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In the wake of several recent sexual assaults in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the NYPD has been handing out some advice to local residents:

Note to women in the South Park Slope and surrounding Brooklyn: You might want to think twice before wearing shorts or skirts when you walk home alone at night.

That’s the message some women say police officers are spreading as they step up patrols in the area in response to at least 10 unsolved sexual attacks that have taken place since March.

In a neighborhood with a reputation for liberal and feminist tendencies, the message is, as to be expected, not going over so well.

Lauren, a South Slope resident, was walking home three blocks from the gym on Monday when she was stopped.

The 25-year-old, who did not want her last name to be used, was wearing shorts and a T-shirt when she claims a police officer asked if she would stop and talk to him. He also stopped two other women wearing dresses.

According to Lauren, the officer asked if they knew what was going on in the neighborhood. When they answered in the affirmative, he asked if they knew what the guy was looking for.

“He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?’” she recalled. “He pointed at their dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin.”

He said that such clothing could make the suspect think he had “easy access,” said Lauren.

She said the officer explained that “you’re exactly the kind of girl this guy is targeting.”

Asked whether officers were warning women against wearing shorts or skirts, the New York City Police Department responded in no time.

“Officers are not telling women what not to wear—there’s a TV series that does that,” quipped Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne in an email. “They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.”

Read the full story here.

The NYPD’s stated logic is confusing.  Who wears skirts?  Women (mostly).  So the NYPD is, in essence, saying that women may be victims.  We knew that.  But it’s not because of what we are wearing.  It’s because we are female.

In the meantime, kudos to the grassroots responses of the men and women behind the Brooklyn Bike Patrol and Safe Slope.  Volunteers from both groups will walk people home from the subway.

-Bridget Crawford

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