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Posted on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Even in safe Ann Arbor, beware of the peril of summer 'beat downs'

By Rich Kinsey

Ann Arbor is a world-class town and statistically very safe. There is a lot to do in and around Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

Certainly in this great land of ours a person should be able to walk wherever they like. The reality however is that there are times and places where the mere act of taking a stroll may not be completely safe.

A number of years ago, I tried to warn a young fellow that he should stay out of a particular neighborhood where he had just been lucky enough to escape after having gunshots aimed and fired at him. He rather arrogantly informed me that he walked and went wherever he wanted.


If while walking, you should pass a group of youths who say something derogatory to you or your friend, it is best to ignore them.

Redbaron |

I told him he was right and that our forefathers fought for his right to do just that. However I told him there was such a thing as being “dead right.”

I explained that a truck bearing down on an intersection honking his horn because he cannot stop at a red light did not prevent a pedestrian from stepping out into the crosswalk in front of the truck --especially if the signal indicated the pedestrian could cross. The pedestrian would be absolutely within their legal right to walk out and expect the truck to stop. They might be “dead right” (as in dead right there) because in reality the laws of physics and kinetic energy sometimes trump the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code or the U. S. Constitution.

Perhaps I am traumatized by what I have seen or read over the years, but there are times -- like nighttime -- that one should consider walking with a friend or friends, a dog or consider a cab ride. It has been my experience that lone pedestrians are most at peril during the late night and early morning hours of darkness when they venture off the well-lit main thoroughfares of downtown.

If to escape the heat you should venture outdoors for a stroll in the evening, take a friend with you.

If while walking, you should pass a group of youths who say something derogatory to you or your friend, it is best to ignore them. This is a very common occurrence in the summer near bars and summer events during the evening hours.

If the pedestrian insulted engages in an understandably indignant back and forth dialogue with the group, chances are they will get roughed up and perhaps robbed when knocked down to the ground. These summer “beat downs” are fairly common.

The victims in these “beat downs” are usually high school or college aged males who are vulnerable and very reactive to insults about manhood or the appearance of their date. Those slinging the insults are groups of similar aged youths who are merely playground bullies with a driver’s license in their group giving them a longer reach.

Somehow the youthful groups of ruffians believe that getting in a fight -- with a large group of friends behind them in case the predator becomes prey -- give them “street creds” (i.e. tough reputation).

These roving bands of thugs usually do not victimize older men. Either it is wisdom from experience or sagging testosterone levels, but most men have learned to shrug off and walk away from idiotic playground talk trying to goad them into a fight against a numerically superior group of man-sized children.

If such groups are spotted or overheard, the police should be called. The police can monitor the group and perhaps prevent someone from receiving a broken cheekbone, nose or broken teeth over something as stupid as playground talk.

Am I picking on groups of young males here? Perhaps, but I have not encountered or read any police reports about groups of middle-aged men or women walking down streets at night looking for trouble or to get into a fight. (Out of country soccer hooligans may be an anomaly to this generalization).

Don’t get me wrong, middle-aged people get drunk or foolish and into fights on occasion, but not usually in groups.

Enjoy the nightlife in Ann Arbor; it really is a safe town with a lot of great nightlife. When your event is over however, just go home. Do not hang around on the street. Stay out of the back alleys and unlit streets unless you are with a group and do not enter into verbal jousting matches with a foul mouth surrounded by a group.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for He also serves as the Crime Stoppers coordinator for Washtenaw County.



Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

"Am I picking on groups of young males here? Perhaps, but I have not encountered or read any police reports about groups of middle-aged men or women walking down streets at night looking for trouble or to get into a fight." Those comments had me visualizing a roving band of thugs encountering a middle-aged woman with a menopausal-PMS chip on her shoulder. My money's on the woman.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Haven't you heard of the pall of fear cast by Hell's Grannies? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

No matter where you are in this world, little good happens by walking around outside after 11PM! Other than that common sense should prevail!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

There's something humorous about using the word, &quot;sagging&quot; in regard to numbers on a lab report. Seems like &quot;sagging&quot; could be a word more appropriately used for specific parts of one's anatomy?

Bob Martel

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

Due to my apparently sagging testosterone level, I am usually in bed by 11 PM!

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

Yes, because in a free society, we all lock our doors and go to sleep by 10:00.

Dr. Vag

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

You can always settle a dispute though dance, don't forget that.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

In terms of the right-of-way issue mentioned in the beginning, our family has a saying: &quot;I've got the right of way, but he's got a truck!&quot;


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

I wonder if there would be so many jokes about the photograph if the photograph was a group of young african americans. Something tells me the photograph was carefully chosen by based on political correctness.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

You may be right about the political correctness - I'm not sure. I'm also sure if a photograph of a multi-cultural group, with clean clothes that look like they're from the Gap, clean shaven faces, styled hair, staged fighting poses and artificial lighting was posted, they'd be made fun of as well.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

@charlie browns ghost: To quote clancy wiggum, &quot;all our founding fathers astronauts and WORLD SERIES heros have either been drunk or on cocaine.&quot;


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

&quot;Don't walk down dark alleys alone at night&quot; Challenge Accepted.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

You are obviously not a Redditor. :(


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Now you've given a prosecutor the nail to hang you on if you should happen to defend yourself. This will appear in court and the jury will be told you were out looking for trouble. A simple act of self defense will no longer get the benefit of doubt that the &quot;stand your ground&quot; doctrine would have provided. Self defense starts long before the physical acts of self defense.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

The solution to this is more baseball. Youth who play baseball don't do beat-downs. &quot;The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.&quot; Good Night and Good Grief.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

o great so you want to create gangs of young people, arm them with bats and train them on how to use them?!??? The horror!

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

I mean PLAYING baseball - that is, whatever activity will keep a kid busy and teach him something about life - not sitting around in front of the television watching millionaires.

John B.

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

You mean MLB, the &quot;all drugs, all the time&quot; former national pastime? What a joke.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

If you don't like baseball you probably don't like America and our freedom.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

I'd rather watch paint dry than watch baseball, and I'm not a criminal. But you are on to something. Kids don't need other kids as role models, they need adults. Whether coaches, teachers, parents, or big brothers/sisters.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

You make a good point. Baseball could cure moonbats, too. Good Night and Good Grief.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Ha, you should run with Palin, you guys have it all figured out.

Wilford John Presler IV

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

.....train,prepare,arm yourself (legally)if necessary, but do NOT tolerate this....


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Oiy! Liberal Ann Arbor is part of Michigan. Michigan has the stand your ground doctrine which gives an armed citizen in such encounters something Goetz never had on top of legal concealed carry. Methinks you overestimate 'liberal' Ann Arbor

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Goetz nearly got off, and this was at a time when every man, woman, child and dog in New York City had been recently mugged. In liberal Ann Arbor when mugging is still relatively rare? Not a chance. Why? Because, as Goetz said, he had about one second to decide whether he was being threatened. If a prosecuting attorney can't make hay with that, he's not going to be employed very long. Add to that a racial component, likely visits from Sharpton and friends, and there's no chance of avoiding a sentence for second-degree murder. Your lawyer would beg for a plea to manslaughter. What do I suggest? That we stop worrying about the size of our jails and start incarcerating kids in that 15-18 range for their first felony-level offenses. These gangs act because they know there's no chance of prosecution. If you're in that situation, head down, no eye-contact, keep walking, try and walk toward a crowd if you can.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

TSK TSK Macabre, such parsing of information. First Bernhard Goetz, was convicted of weapons possession (because in NYC only criminals are allowed to have them) NOT for any of the murder or assault charges. Second while I generally agree with the martial arts statement you leave quite a few possible outcomes to firearms use. For example, shooting one attacker in self defense causing others to cease and flee. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Lots of stories out there about how just brandishing a firearm can cause the attack to stop. I do suppose that talking to them like reasonable adults will..oh wait, what do you suggest then?

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

I guarantee you that if you feel a few martial arts classes will enable you to take on three criminals (not the sharks and the jets pictured above) you will quickly be a laughing stock. And then you will be hurt. Life is not a Quentin Tarantino movie. For those of you who believe carrying a gun will solve this problem, you either have to shoot before you really know what you're facing (Bernhard Goetz did this, and served time) or you're going to be disarmed quickly.

John B.

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

Sorry, ignore the above response. A technical glitch occurred.

John B.

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

You mean MLB, the &quot;all drugs, all the time&quot; former national pastime? What a joke.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Tolerate throwing an elbow or fist into the solar plexus or bridge of the nose. That'll make them think twice about jumping someone.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

I love that picture - are they going to fight via fingersnapping and pirouettes, a la the Jets and the Sharks?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

Cool, boy, crazy, boy.....


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

@cookies-you'd be surprised how quickly a dialogue can go from insults to beating someone. Especially if someone in a group doesn't want to look stupid in front of their friends.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

@thekillabee, should you follow that up with, &quot;Do you feel lucky?&quot; and wait to see a dark spot appear on the front of their pants?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Was this article written in 1965? Why does it sound like someone's grumpy neighbor shaking their head about &quot;kids these days?&quot; Where are the facts? &quot;If the pedestrian insulted engages in an understandably indignant back and forth dialogue with the group, chances are they will get roughed up and perhaps robbed when knocked down to the ground. These summer 'beat downs' are fairly common.&quot; For starters, how does a dialouge devolve to being knocked down and robbed? How is this limited to the summer? What do you mean by &quot;fairly common?&quot;


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Maybe instead of responding verbally to taunts, we could sneak up behind them and hold a Smith &amp; Wesson inches from the back of their head like your buddy did. We could all share in a laugh afterward.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

@winner- But you know the parents will say, &quot;My johnny would never do something like that&quot;. Parents that try to be their child's best friend are in complete denial of their responsibilities and what their child is capable of. I would rather have the parent say something like Marge Simpson, &quot;Oh no, Bart's joined a violence gang!&quot; As much as I would advocate avoiding the situation, I would also advocate the victims of these crimes to try and inflict as much damage as possible if things go sour and they are attacked-pressure points and joints are great for this. (Not advocating violence, forum moderators, just localized self-defense)

Richard Retyi

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Can I suggest a more menacing picture of hoodlums? Those boys look like they're on their way to the midnight showing of Transformers.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

Because if the criminals responsible were actually pictured, it would violate this blog's rules.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

There's nothing more scary than gangs of 14 year olds who hang out in photography studios.

Five Red Hens

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Perhaps an image of &quot;Out of country soccer hooligans&quot; would serve well.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

In general, groups of kids are in no means a threat to our safety anywhere. But I agree, if they do begin to make remarks and say ignorant things to you, ignore and walk in the other direction. Especially if you are alone (which you should avaoid doing). But the fact that these &quot;thugs&quot; think they can do this is a huge problem. One commenter said it right &quot;we get what we tolerate&quot;. If the kids who did this did not get away with &quot;warnings&quot;, they would not do it. Our policies are so soft on this type of behavior. Lock them up for a couple nights, put them in cells with real criminals. Fine their parents and drag them into court. And I bet you see behaviors change.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

Just point your guns at their faces. That's what the AAPD does: <a href=""></a>

Wilford John Presler IV

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

&quot;just point&quot;at an assailant.... HAHAHAHA....... click click pull... my click pull


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

With all the discussion of budget woes, I am much less likely to call the police as suggested. Shame on me perhaps, but I feel like I'm inconveniencing them &amp; why bother?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Because their job is to Protect and Serve.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

What's really sad is why a group of degenerates think they can openly insult people in passing and then when the verbal victim demands satisfaction, the group of children (let's face it, that's what they are based on their actions), decide to all attack at once like a pack of dogs. I would agree that it would be best to ignore the verbal jaw-kacking. Most if not all self-defense disciplines teach you to avoid these kinds of situations. Shame we don't ever hear a story about a single victim that fought back and made the DB's pay for trying to jump him/her. If a group of people (is a group 3 or more?) go after a single person, the victim would be lawfully allowed to use lethal force to protect himself/herself right? Perhaps Mr. Kinsey could help with this one. @Brian- your user picture is sweet!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Here's one for yah: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Go to for more


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

The proposed cuts to public safety won't help this matter either. Good reminder for those not smart to the streets. As a native of A2 I have observed these behaviors and been involved with them as well. Rich has the right idea to ignore the verbal comments and stay in groups at certain times when possible. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Pay attention to your 6th sense and stay safe!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : noon

The acronym CCW comes to mind.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

I disagree, in MI a CCW legally speaking is the offense you are charged with. For personal protection and to keep yourself on the right side of the law, you are only &quot;permitted&quot; to carry a firearm. You may also carry certain types of OC/Pepper spray. Do not say you are carrying a knife, with intent to use it for self protection as that is not covered. Knife ordinances also vary from municipality to municipality so that may trip you up badly if you use it. Bludgeons are specifically covered as a no-no. So back to Dive's comment, CPL is probably the term he was looking for, even though colloquially and by law enforcement the terms are interchangeable.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

CCW = carrying (a) concealed weapon. CPL = concealed pistol license. Since a weapon does not have to be a pistol, it seems to me CCW is accurate in this context.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Correction, I believe you mean C P L

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

Mace or Pepper spray and my iPhone are always with me.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Not ONE link to a prev story backing up this chicken little story. I subscribe to AAPD and UM crime alerts, and while there are muggings and robberies, the thug mob versus testosterone fueled victim MO has not come up with any frequency.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Perhaps you haven't been in A2 for long, as this sort of thing has happened several times over the many years I have been here, and seems to be a recurring theme in more recent times. Doesn't happen every year, but it is a recurring problem.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

A few short years ago, there were several attacks in the campus area committed by the same roving band of young thugs, mostly on students walking later at night, by themselves... this went on for an entire summer, if memory serves me correctly. Don't recall if they were caught for sure, but I think they were, eventually.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

Did you not just see the Greenwood story about the mob of 10 guys who put a few others in the hospital? And I would guess most of the cases of that kind of &quot;beat down&quot; don't result in a police report unless something was stolen or someone ends up in a hospital.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

Can we list some recent 'beat downs'? I read the paper and I'm not recalling any reports of this type of crime in Ann Arbor off the top of my head. One thing that was advised in this column that is incorrect is the assumption that you are safe if you take a cab. Hello? Think about that for a second. You just got into a car with a stranger. Bad idea.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Yeah, don't forget the few last summer -- the worst I think I heard of was some guy seriously wounded after a football game after exchanging words with some kids. Maybe these aren't super common, but they do seem to be at least somewhat regular, and I have to agree that it's better to not engage than to engage and end up getting hurt for it.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

I think Kinsey is referring to this article, where there is more than one attacker: <a href="">;utm_medium=feed&amp;</a>


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

It's not even always reported. Lots of people take a mild roughing and call it part of life. Without a good ID on the perpetrators, there's not much that can be done the next day anyway.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

If you'd been reading over the past week, there has been a number of people jumped and robbed by a group of young men putting many in the hosptial.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

The driver is more at risk than the passenger. Really? You think cab drivers are dangerous? They have had background checks. They drive easily identifiable vehicles and present not only their name, but birthdate on their license which is visible insided the cab. No, it might be a possibility that the cabbie is dangerous, but it is much more likely to be the passenger(s). At night, the driver is quite often outnumbered three to one. Leave the poor cabbie alone.

Hot Sam

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

We get what we tolerate...


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:23 a.m.

Sadly, we are now seeing teen girl gangs in some parts of the country and they can be just as vicious on vulnerable targets such as the elderly, infirm, and lone women or girls.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

AnnArbor, SAFE? Don't you believe that for one minute.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

Sounds like a case of sagging testosterone.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

Yeah, it's also pretty safe, guys.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

A2 has all the problems of a big city. Never forget this.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

Kinsey, good advice.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

Per usual good commentary on prevention bit no addressing what to do if you are in it. Yes awareness and avoidance are key to self defense. Sometimes you aren't allowed those options, then what? Richard why wont you ever disuss that?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

&quot;Richard why wont you ever disuss that?&quot; Because prints what sells. And people truly don't want to hear about or think about such things... until something horrible happens to them or someone they love. smokeblwr, you pass people every day who are carrying a concealed weapon. You just don't know it. CPLs have nearly doubled in the last five years. Where's the mayhem you speak of?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Bedrog, you'll note, I'm not usually the first to advocate a gun as the solution to all problems, people like you are. I pointed out that when the option of avoidance is taken from you that one must have a plan and other options to survive. Other options that Mr. Kinsey does not EVER address. Yes a personal firearm is ONE solution and depending on the wielder and training often a good one (on that the &quot;brandishing&quot; of often ends a negative encounter post haste with no shots fired into crowds or otherwise). Probably a more sensible solution, given the time of day these occur and the activities the victims were likely engaged in that preclude firearms, would be pepper spray. But again this would entail people opening their eyes to such situations and planning ahead for themselves. Unfortunately an all too UNcommon occurrence. I do thank you for your concession and taking the bait as it were to continue the discussion.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

...what then you ask??? after all other options are exhausted??? Simple... .45 ACP... Because 9mm may or may not expand, but .45 never shrinks... ;-) Glad there are at least some like minded individuals in this city... someone has to be the ying for their yang, LOL!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

lemme guess your solution !!...ummmm... everybody packs heat? ( p.s although i give you a rough time on militia-philia i do agree that perpetual cheek turning is not a panacea either).


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

Probably because he doesn't want a bunch of old men with sagging testosterone levels firing their protection into the crowd at Top of the Park.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 10:07 a.m.

&quot;Sagging testosterone levels&quot;! That's a great choice of words, Rich.