Women in NYC Have Long Reported Incidents of Strangers Punching Them Why Are These Assault Allegations Suddenly in the Spotlight

Women in NYC Have Long Reported Incidents of Strangers Punching Them: Why Are These Assault Allegations Suddenly in the Spotlight?

For the past week, multiple 20-something women have released TikTok videos stating that a stranger punched them while they were walking through New York City’s Union Square district.

The videos have nearly taken on a life of their own, outperforming social media discussions and local news coverage. Three videos from the last week alone have received over 54 million views on TikTok, which is notable given that they are not in response to an existing news article or augment a police report. In truth, the films are both the outcome of and contribute to a bigger national discourse about safety in major cities across the United States.

On Wednesday, an NYPD representative confirmed to Yahoo News that a suspect was arrested and charged with assault in response to a March 26 police report filed by one of the women. The investigation is ongoing, they said, although authorities did not disclose whether the suspect was linked to previous incidents involving viral videos.

What’s Happening With These Videos?

There have been two waves of women releasing identical recordings of their experiences with strangers on New York City streets, with the second wave receiving the greatest media attention.

Patch reported in September 2023 that three different women came out on TikTok to accuse strangers of striking them in the face — both on the streets and on the subway — with the most viral video of the lot receiving 1.1 million views.

But when content creator Halley Mcgookin posted many videos to her 1.2 million followers on March 25, some of which showed her in tears, saying she had been punched in the forehead by a stranger, the topic escalated. Mcgookin’s debut video has garnered over 41 million views.

The virality of Mcgookin’s video may have prompted additional women to speak up. Another TikTok user, Mikayla Toninato, posted on her account that she had experienced the same incident in the same neighborhood two days before, on March 23. She tagged Mcgookin in her video, which has since received nearly 11 million views.

Then, a third lady submitted a video identifying both Mcgookin and Toninato, claiming she, too, had been pounded in the head by a stranger in New York around the same time. Her video has more than 2.5 million views.

The allegations did not end there. After seeing the TikTok videos, amateur internet sleuths began researching and discovered other women making films of being hit by a stranger. One, from February 7, shows user Gizem Sirmali, who had recently moved to New York from Turkey and said she was attacked on her way to work. It has approximately 200,000 views, with the majority of the top comments coming from the past two days.

Another video from March 17 shows TikTok user Olivia Brand recapping her reaction to being punched by a stranger in a 13-second video that has since received 5 million views. The majority of her comments are from March 26, with numerous viewers stating things such as, “This is the second sidewalk punching video I’ve seen today” and “You and Halley need to compare notes.”

Has the NYPD Addressed These Videos?

The NYPD’s deputy commissioner of public information told Yahoo News that two women in their twenties submitted police reports on March 17 and March 25.

According to the spokesperson, the NYPD is investigating a harassment report from a 25-year-old woman who alleges she was punched in the head while walking her dog, which matches the events in Brand’s video. The March 25 assault file depicted a 23-year-old woman who claimed she fell on the ground after being hit around 10:20 a.m., which is consistent with Mcgookin’s claims.

The NYPD declined to confirm to Yahoo News whether there has been a significant increase in police filings from young women reporting a stranger punched them in a public location. They also did not clarify whether the incidents were related. The guy arrested is believed to be involved in Mcgookin’s case.

Why Are These Videos Becoming Popular Now?

The substantial gains in viewership, engagement, and coverage distinguish the September 2023 films from those released this week. Women’s safety issues have been a worry since before September, so what makes these latest articles so popular?

It has to do with timing. A November Gallup poll revealed that Americans’ personal safety anxieties were at a 30-year high, which the organization attributed in part to increasing media coverage of crime. It doesn’t even have to be a news media that covers the crime, as proven by the millions of TikTok viewers.

In recent months, there has been a lot of crime chatter, particularly in New York City, despite the lack of statistics to back it up, which just adds to the public sense that crime is increasing.

According to NBC News, FBI data released last week reveals that crime has declined over the last year. In New York City, NYPD figures from February indicate a drop in shootings and homicides compared to February 2023. At the same time, criminal assault increased by more than three percent. Misdemeanor assault allegations have increased by more than 10% this year.

The New York Times claimed that the “blown-out coverage” of crime had made New Yorkers fearful. TikTok videos, particularly those featuring Mcgookin soon following the alleged incident, contribute to the relentless coverage and fuel the fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *