Yesterday my son turned 5. It was a relatively uneventful day. If I’m being honest, he woke up in a bad mood and just wanted to be a contrarian all day. He also refused to accept that he had turned 5.
So the day went like almost every other day. He played, did crafts, sensorial and math kind of things for school… then he did a Zoom with grandparents, and his sister built his Mario LEGO presents while he finally accepted that it was his birthday in exchange for a cupcake.
Remember that my husband is still working from home – 20 months into this endless pandemic; and he works at night. Our house is open concept, so high ceilings coupled with open space and thin walls make for a loud nightly environment through the entire house. Most nights, for 20 months now, I’ve popped my little guy in the car and driven around until he is calmed down enough for bedtime. Usually he’ll fall asleep and get carried in pretty quickly if we stay around home, off really bright main streets. And, what’s nice now is – not to sound overly corny, but – Christmas lights are everywhere and we’re able to soak in all the Santas and snowmen we can while calming down every evening.
So naturally, when it came to bedtime, I popped my newly-minted 5 year old in his car seat and we went on our usual route.
Our usual route, as I said, is stuck pretty close to home. It is predictable, and happens roughly around the same time. After making the full trip around our and surrounding neighborhoods a couple times, he asked if I would take him back to see the house with Santa on the roof. I asked him if he’d go to sleep if I did; he said yes, so off we went.
The Santa-on-the-roof house is approximately one mile from our house, and right before we get to it we just happen to pass my son’s godparents’ home, and then a friend of mine that I met through my campaign for city council last year (we’ll get to that part later).
Just after passing both of their homes, and still about half a block from the Santa, a white man in sweatpants and a t-shirt suddenly ran into the street. Naturally I slammed on the brakes to not hit him, and this is something that happens pretty often in our area (kids playing, dogs running…) so I wasn’t too surprised, mostly annoyed.
What happened next I was not prepared for. He completely blocked my car and started banging on my hood, then he walked over to my window and started pounding on my and my son’s windows, screaming.
I was able to quickly pull my car away from him and drive off. But as I drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror only to see him and another person get in a car and follow me. They caught up to me relatively quickly and started doing the whole tailgate-bright-lights-honking thing. Terrified, with my 5 year old now crying hysterically, I called 9-1-1 over the bluetooth, and the operator talked us over to Vons until the police came. Fortunately, pulling into the well-lit parking lot spooked them, and they left the lot as quickly as they pulled in.
So a lot to unpack there, but it’s mostly questions that I am left with, most of which start with “why.”
Why would anyone do something like that, ever? Beyond the fact that it’s wholly inappropriate, you – yourself – could get hurt. I’ve never thought to myself that a situation warranted running in front of a car. I’m not even sure what kind of a thought process makes you think that doing that wouldn’t potentially result in serious injury. And banging on the windows of a stranger’s car? Not in a million years would I think to get in my car and then follow someone I don’t know.
This isn’t a fucking movie where actions are devoid of consequences and you get to just behave like that with all absence of reason. In fact, even if you think you have a reason that justifies it: we don’t live in a world where vigilante behavior is even remotely acceptable. My son and I could have been seriously hurt.
After the man and his accomplice left the Vons parking lot, I told the 9-1-1 operator that I was going to go back to my house and would meet the police there. Again, this is all within a square mile, and this way my older daughter would be able to come sit with my son while I talked to the cops.
With no sense of urgency whatsoever, several minutes later the police pulled onto my street. No lights, they drove to the end and looked around for a second; then drove back over to my house. They asked what happened, I told them. They asked a few questions like “were you stopped or going super slow” (no, no), and then they said the man probably thought I was casing the neighborhood, and they said their goodnight.
No notes. No report numbers. It occurred to me sometime this afternoon – after the shock wore off – that they may not have even filed the report (I plan to call them tomorrow to follow up).
Today, I woke up wondering if it was even safe to walk the dogs. And as the day wore on, and I wondered how we will deal with bedtimes now, the real thing I wasn’t thinking about was that I ran for city council last year and have since been harassed, doxed, and threatened, as recently as a month ago. I can’t really comment on anything in the local news pages, or even post in the private moms group for my city to ask for a recommendation on where to pick up dinner, without someone bringing up my city council race and revealing oddly specific details about me and my kids, and our general whereabouts. In my mind, it didn’t really occur to me until later today that these actually could have been related.
So I posted to Next-door, as well as Twitter; and I started contacting people I knew from the area. Through the course of the day, I found out that:
– The man that ran in front of my car is involved in the real estate organization that interviewed me, and me alone, as some weird, suburban ops to try and trick me into incriminating myself in my city council campaign. I found out about this only after a quarterly filing; that their “endorsement interview” was fake (the organization doesn’t actually do endorsements), and they had given my opponent a large donation before said interview.
– His wife is good friends with a woman that volunteered on my opponent’s campaign; who also spread the heinous and dangerous rumor that I wanted to defund the police.
And then this happened on my Next-door post…
So my son and I were attacked last night. It sounds horrible to say, but that’s exactly what happened. An angry white man in sweatpants who may or may not have had a political revenge motive, who is involved in an organization that did some crazy shit during the campaign over a year ago – the campaign I am still doxed, harassed, and threatened over… the campaign, I should add, THAT I LOST… attacked my son and I last night.
He may have also had no reasoning or reference at all other than to harm us or scare us. All within a square mile of where we live.
Did he have a gun? Did he have a motive? Did his wife have a motive? Was his wife the accomplice? Was it someone else? Did they plan this?
Is my home and my neighborhood safe?
We are living through pretty crazy times you guys. Now, more than ever, I understand the depth of it.