Does crossing the street to avoid certain people reduce your chances of being victimized by crime?

I’ve got to handle this delicately; I don’t want to be accused of being a racist, which (I hope) I am not. However, I’m putting this directly into the BBQ pit, because there’s no way people will be able to maintain a calm rational response to this, and they may want the opportunity to vent.

Following the police reports near my university (which are mailed right to us), I’ve seen again and again that the people who attack people in my neighborhood are of a certain group. Ergo, it would seem that crossing the street to avoid that kind of person is a good way to protect myself against being victimized by crime. Okay, more specifically, men in their twenties of that group.

Minorities, how bad do you feel when someone crosses the street to avoid you? Last summer, I crossed the middle of the street just to get to my apartment, but a man of that group who happened to be in front of me thought I was doing this, and the look on his face could best be described as “sad” and “hurt”.

I don’t like the idea of racism, and I wouldn’t want to be a victim of this technique, but when it comes to personal safety, I’m forced to throw political correctness out the window.

Oh, incidentally, I’m a short, skinny, white male, but I’ve had people (especially women) cross the street to avoid me. It seems I’ve got the “crazy eyes”. It makes me kind of angry, but whenever I see a man significantly bigger and taller than me cross the street to avoid me, I do feel a little safer.

If you base your decision on who to avoid on the street on newspaper reports, then you may or may not be a racist but you’re also not necessarily avoiding the right people.

Newspaper reports are anecdotes, whether or not they’re true. You may be exhibiting confirmation bias; the newspaper you read may be less likely to report crimes committed by a certain group (or non-members of a certain group); you may just happen to pick up the newspaper on days immediately after a member of Group X committed a crime.

FWIW, I’m far more likely to cross the street to avoid a panhandler than a person I think might be a mugger. I have a cheap phone, easily replaceable personal jewelry and I don’t carry cash.

Perceptive young men might easily take note of such behavior and decide that such streetcrossing indicates fear and vulnerability.

I don’t cross the street exactly because of what Squink wrote.

While I can see crossing the street being a way to avoid a confrontation with someone who’s likely to go off only if directly provoked (such as a bunch of drunks), I can’t imagine a mugger, or especially a group of muggers, thinking “Man, that person looks like a plum target-- if only they were on this side of the street!” I don’t know how much less conspicuous you really are for being on the opposite side, and crossing seems to be likely to bring more attention (and bad feeling) on yourself.

I’m a minority where I live (though not a particularly feared one.) People do sometimes cross the street to avoid me. I find it offensive- just like I find it offensive every time it becomes obvious that people are treating me as a skin color, not a person. Would you really expect any different?

Yeah, didn’t your mother tell you that Negros can smell fear?

I live in Vancouver, and our minorities are generally asian. It’s never occurred to me to be fearful of them.

This sort of thing can be misconstrued. I remember once I was walking down the street, enjoying the weather as it was a beautiful day. I had a rare good feeling of being quietly at peace with myself.

I heard a loud, but happy commotion behind me, and saw that a bunch of teenagers were laughing it up amongst themselves. I slowed down to let them pass me, as I didn’t wish to have my pleasant quiet mood interupted. One of them stared at me as he passed, and yelled back from ahead of me, “You don’t have to worry, lady! I don’t want your money!”

The teenagers were black. I am white.

Now, up until that moment, I didn’t consider them a threat. I recognized they were just having a good time as I did with my friends at their age. I just wanted a nice quiet walk.

It didn’t matter though. All my good feelings were out the window, and I was down in the dumps again. The walk, the whole day was ruined. Not my fault. But not really theirs either.

This may be your greatest asset. No one of any size, strength or ethnicity wants to cross paths with someone out of their gourd.

Incidentally, the other night I was walking down a pretty empty street and I caught up to a guy twice my size, so it was almost like we were walking (awkwardly) side by side. He crossed. I’m pretty sure it was so I wasn’t uncomfortable, which, if true, was awfully nice of him.

I work in an urban environment. We routinely have thefts on our campus and the streets surrounding our campus. We have recently had a rash of thefts in faculty offices in my building. This is a little creepy, like we have anything to steal but exams and pencils, WTF. I’m a little old lady and try to be aware of the world around me, but for the love of GOD I refuse to be afraid of walking down the street. If you want my money, less than $20, take it. If you want my life, what can I do to stop you? I refuse to live my life afraid.

I’ll do that sometimes. I’m a big guy and a fast walker. I’ve been walking on a city street at night and realize I’m catching up to a woman walking ahead of me, sometimes you’ll just get this vibe that she’s uncomfortable. But if I slow down, then it seems like I’m sneaking up on her. I’ll cross the street in that situation.

Crossing the street excessively can increase your risk of being run over by a drunk driver, I should point out.

I just had to lighten this thread up a little. Here is a video of the funniest take I’ve ever heard on this phenomenon.

(link is to Comedy Central, select ‘‘John Mulaney Subway Station Chase’’ on the menu)

The above may be more to the point than what I am going to attempt to say.

I used to live in some pretty bad parts of Atlanta (Poncey Highlands, Inman Park, Grant Park close to the prison, Midtown was unexpectedly the worse, though) and what you have to do is not be prey. I’m a white boy, so the type of assholes you’re alluding to, deuce, peg me as a possible victim at first glance. But I don’t act weak.

Think about animal predators. They chase what is obvious, and more importantly … easy prey. If you don’t want them to fuck with you then you have to make them think that you know damn well where you are and what you’re doing. That means not crossing the street when you see criminals, pussy.

I don’t mean bowing up at them or saying something that’s just going to piss them off. Good Lord, starting a confrontaion is even worse than crossing the street. Just show an air of confidence. Think: You go about your business, I’m going to forget about you 30 seconds from now. And this works for all races. I spent some time in London, and it’s the same thing. Just a bit… erm… paler.

The young pack of assholes eyeing you are looking for easy prey.

Don’t look like prey.

I’m not sure I understand how this is an analogous situation. Do you, like the OPer, regularly get alerts about members of the relevant group (in your case, Asians) physically assaulting people?

As to the OP: I’m in a very similar living situation, being in a university neighborhood and getting email alerts from the university about crimes committed predominantly by a particular group. Although I always try to be alert, I very rarely ever cross the street to avoid potential danger. The most recent instance was a few weeks ago when I was jogging and approaching a railroad underpass where I saw what looked like one guy beating the shit out of another guy while a third party was holding someone else in restraint. It might have just been kids playing; I couldn’t tell for sure. Anyway, if that makes me racist, then either you have a bullshit definition of racism, or the conditions for racism are so loose that I really don’t care if I’m racist or not.

That ain’t racist. That’s just prudence.

I’m curious as to how taller and bigger built guys cross the street because of your “crazy eyes.” I’ve walked through some bad neighborhoods, but never have been like “OMG, that guy 300 feet away, heading towards me, has the craziest eyes I’ve ever seen, I’d better cross the street.” Ignoring the fact that at 300 feet it would be hard to get any kind of detail about a person’s eyes. I mean, how crazy? Buggy, Steve Buschemi crazy? Is one eye like the guy from the Goonies? What?!

I’ve been worried about guys in the past. Thug looking guys that are obviously packing, homless guys that talk to themselves and look agitated, even old ladies in large vehicles. I’ve never even once have heard of anybody actually being intimidated by somebody’s eyes. Typically if I’m passing a guy that has some tough guy demeanour with a fake crosseyes wanna be crazy look, I’m laughing inwardly that they are trying to hard, or are mentally challenged. Not intimidated at all. After all, the real tough guys don’t need to fake it.

Increases the risk of being run over by a sober driver as well.

Yep. This goes for women, too. I see far too many women who shuffle down the street, eyes downward, looking like helpless little kittens. Ever since I figured out that walking like that makes me look vulnerable, I stopped it. I walk briskly (even in heels ;)) and confidently. My head is up, I look around and make eye contact and make sure I project an attitude that says, “I’m not a shrinking violet and I won’t take shit.”

I still get an occasional “hey, baby!” but it’s literally about 1/10th what I used to get. I’m sure it’s because I look like a strong bitch, but whatever!