Brian Goldman, a senior at Penn who says he was the passenger in the cab Saturday night, says he was punched through the open window of the cab, seemingly without provocation, and that there were as many as 15 teens in the offending group.
Police said yesterday that a cabbie and his passenger were attacked by a group of three teens at 15th and Chestnut streets around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Center City. During the attack, according to police, three black teens — two 17-year-olds and a 15-year-old — shouted racial slurs at the white passenger.
The passenger ran off at some point and the cabbie was able to scare the teens away with a tire iron, police said. Luckily, officers were able to catch the three teens and have charged them as juveniles with aggravated assault and related offenses.
Since the passenger ran off, police were not able to confirm today that Goldman was the passenger, and Goldman has not immediately responded to an email.
Meanwhile, when I arrived to work today, my email inbox was filled with people who wanted to know if these three black teens would be charged with a hate crime. This is not the first crime I've written about where people have asked that and while I'm no longer shocked at some of the language used in these emails, it still saddens me beyond belief.
I called police this morning to ask if there were any updates in the case and to see if the teens would be charged with a hate crime. Because the passenger hadn't been identified, police said they could not charge the teens with a hate crime or with any crime against that passenger. They charged the kids with assaulting the driver.
Not once does Goldman mention race in his column. His ire is directed not toward the young offenders or their skin color but to the dozens of bystanders who witnessed the attack and did nothing.
"People got out of their cars to watch. The Wendy's right across the street from us was filled with spectators eager to catch the bloody battle," he wrote. "When I realized we were not going to receive help from the passersby, I did the only thing that seemed reasonable. I heeded the Forrest Gump adage and ran — towards 16th Street."
I called police back and told them that a victim had come forward. A spokeswoman asked me to pass the information along and said that detectives will have to reach out to Goldman and get his version of events to see if stronger charges are now warranted.
It's not clear from Goldman's piece why he never called the cops or why he ran away from the cabbie that came to his aid, but I hope to ask him those questions if and when he returns my request to speak with him today.