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this evening, i heard a small scream, which billowed into massive screams, coming in waves, the way people scream for their lives. i ran outside and my neighbors were halfway down the stairs trying to find where the screams were coming from.

he was next door, he was running past my neighbors, tucking the purse into his arm, he was cutting through the bushes. that’s him, that’s him, somebody stop him. my neighbors give chase as he jumps a fence, but i turn back to the screaming.

she’s there at the end of the driveway, tucked in the corner, blood pooled and staining everywhere, her car still running and playing music. i put my hand on her back, someone needed to touch her, saying you’re ok, you’re alive, thank god you can scream loud; wishing i knew more about stopping blood, slowing swelling. she was shock-calm, as someone gave her their t-shirt, and people brought ice, and people called police and ambulances, as four neighbors a street over wrestled him to the ground and held him, as they flagged down the police, as tons of cop cars and a firetruck and ambulance arrived, as she had to see him to identify him, as statements were taken.

she screamed, so she’s alive. we all ran out of the house and scared him into running, so she’s alive. i couldn’t understand how hands could do such damage, so it made sense when they said he had a construction hammer. she was hummingbird-small, barefoot and brave.

everyone stood around retelling the story for an hour, then we all went to our different gyms and pools and worked off the adrenaline. then we ordered pizza and watched the news coverage together. i’m left with all these thoughts:

what makes someone so desperate that they beat a woman with a hammer in broad daylight for a chance at her car, or her purse?

instincts are amazing. each of us did a different thing, the thing that made sense for us to do. together, as an unplanned team, we intervened.

there are so many dynamics – her tiny frame vs. his massive one, her whiteness vs. his blackness, her ability to fight back vs his ability to pummel her. the way that the whole community responded was where all those dynamics were challenged – smaller men chased him and caught him, folks from every background responded, tenderness came from every size and shape imaginable.

there’ve now been two violent robberies and two violent murders on this corner…how do we rebuild safety?

mostly, i wish for a restorative process now. i wish this was a peace zone, where we could catch him, comfort and heal her, and then get to the root issues that created today’s events. i wish she could stay in the comfort of her community while being treated, instead of hauled away alone in an ambulance. hearing people call for his beating, his punishment, just made me wish the community energy extended even further.

part of me is still shook. thank god for my neighbors, for my folk, and how we look out for each other.