Monday, April 11: It was around 7:30 pm and I was sitting at a table on the third floor of the MLK Library. I was in the middle of a timed section of test prep when a young man (about 20) came and sat beside me. I thought this was a little odd because the two seats across from me were both empty and social protocol would typically direct the person to one of those. He sat quite close and I could feel him looking at me in-between browsing a magazine. After several minutes of feeling uncomfortable, I turned to him for the first time and saw him rubbing his exposed penis. I immediately stood up and loudly went off on him about how he was disgusting and how this is a public place etc. A library staff person was sitting at a desk 10 feet away and I told him that the guy was touching himself and that something had to be done.
After some hesitation and apparent confusion on the library staff person’s part, he picked up the phone and called security, but security did not pick up. It wasn’t until a different gentleman at the table behind us spoke up and told the library staff person to call security again and tell them what this man was wearing that he made the second call. Meanwhile, the pervert sat for another minute at the table and then casually exited the room and walked towards the staircase. I should also note that the room was full of people who obviously heard what was going on and not a single person stood up, and only the one gentleman spoke up. Security didn’t come to the room, but the library staff person walked me downstairs to the security desk and I explained a security guard what happened and put the incident in writing. Once I was downstairs I saw that someone had broken a glass panel at the library’s entrance (a completely separate incident by a different person). This at lea st provides a partial explanation for why security didn’t answer to the call upstairs.
Tuesday, April 12: I went back to follow-up and explain my disappointment with the slow response time from the library staff. No, they did not find the gentleman. However, I was pleased that the library staff person (who reacted very slowly to the whole situation) had discussed the situation with his manager. I then spoke to his manager, a very concerned woman, and she told me that she had already planned to discuss the incident with the director and use it as a learning tool for the staff.
While I appreciate the manager’s compassion and it’s encouraging that the incident will be used a teaching tool so that the response will be improved next time, I can’t say that I feel completely safe in the library. I also want to note one of the more disturbing parts to me, which is that right after it happened and I said “he’s touching himself” very loudly, apparently the library staff person misunderstood and thought I said that he was touching me. I would hope that someone touching me would have created an even greater sense of urgency and action in that situation. But it didn’t.
Submitted by DK
Location: MLK Jr. Memorial Library
Time of harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)
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