Is TikTok Stoking Nervousness About Road Crime in N.Y.C.?


A collection of viral movies from a number of younger feminine TikTok customers, who posted emotional dispatches about getting punched on metropolis streets, induced concern this week concerning the subject amongst followers on-line.

Halley Kate Mcgookin, a social media influencer with greater than one million followers, posted on Monday morning that she was sending an e mail on her cellphone whereas strolling in Manhattan when a person with a canine got here as much as her and hit her within the face with out warning.

“You guys, I used to be actually simply strolling and a person got here up and punched me within the face,” Ms. Mcgookin mentioned in a video she recorded after the encounter that has been seen greater than 46 million occasions. “Oh my God, it hurts so dangerous, I can’t even speak. Actually, I fell to the bottom, and now this big goose egg is forming.”

Shana Davis-Ross, a spokeswoman for Ms. Mcgookin, declined a number of requests for touch upon the incident. Police officers mentioned on Wednesday that they’d made an arrest in an assault matching the small print of Ms. Mcgookin’s case.

Different girls have lately shared comparable experiences on TikTok. Mikayla Toninato, a 27-year-old pupil on the Parsons Faculty of Design posted that she was assaulted on thirteenth Road and Fifth Avenue. Karina Dunford, a 24-year-old mannequin, additionally mentioned she was attacked.

The random assaults come at a time when anxieties about crime within the metropolis are escalating. A current determination by Gov. Kathy Hochul to deploy the Nationwide Guard and the State Police to observe the New York Metropolis subway system was largely in response to those issues, although high-profile episodes that get a variety of on-line protection typically have the potential to gas a deceptive impression of crime.

Ms. Toninato mentioned in a cellphone interview she was on her method house round 2 p.m. Monday when a person approached her close to Union Sq. and struck her within the face.

“I didn’t see him coming as a result of I used to be wanting down, however it was a reasonably empty sidewalk and there was no one round me,” she mentioned. “Then he punched me and I screamed and I rotated to see what simply occurred. It felt like an out of physique expertise. I couldn’t even imagine what occurred and I rotated and the person was staring again at me whereas strolling away.”

Ms. Toninato mentioned that when she texted her buddies to inform them what had simply occurred, they responded by sending her Ms. Mcgookin’s video.

On Tuesday, after being urged by her TikTok followers, Ms. Toninato went to the emergency room, the place she mentioned docs instructed her she had a concussion. She additionally had a black eye and a chipped tooth. A health care provider’s word reviewed by The New York Instances confirmed that Ms. Toninato was seen at N.Y.U. Langone on March 26.

Ms. Dunford mentioned in a cellphone interview that she was strolling on Avenue of the Americas close to twenty third Road on Tuesday when a person approached her from behind and hit her exhausting at the back of the top with a closed fist. When she rotated, he was watching her, holding his arm out, seemingly able to assault once more. She screamed, and bystanders bodily separated him from her, earlier than he wandered off.

Mayor Eric Adams mentioned in a information convention on Tuesday that the town was troubled by “random acts of violence.”

In keeping with New York Metropolis police statistics, felony assaults had been up 3 p.c from the yr earlier than, and misdemeanor assaults had been up by 10 p.c over the identical interval.

In one other interview with The Reset Speak Present final week, Mr. Adams mentioned that social media may make these acts appear extra widespread than they’re. “When you’ve got random acts of violence that’s centered on repeatedly,” he mentioned, “exhibiting movies time and again — it performs on how individuals really feel within the subway system.”

Adam Scott Wandt, an affiliate professor and deputy chair for know-how at John Jay Faculty of Prison Justice, mentioned: “When a narrative about being punched within the head goes viral on social media, after which it travels throughout the nation, it could shortly overshadow the truth that New York Metropolis can also be a comparatively secure metropolis to stroll round in. Incidents like this on social media can create the impression New York Metropolis is a much more violent and crime ridden metropolis than it truly is.”

“It’s additionally vital to recollect the information media likes protecting tales about violence, and that individuals are drawn to watching social media about violence,” he added, “which all will increase the possibilities of one thing going viral and getting seen by many.”

Because the TikTok dispatches started to build up this week, customers flooded remark sections to specific their concern, a lot of them relaying their very own comparable and distressing experiences.

Ms. Toninato, who’s initially from Minnesota and moved to New York in August, mentioned that the incident made her terrified of leaving her house.

“I by no means would have thought to put up a TikTok about this, however when my good friend despatched me Halley’s video, it simply made me conscious of the truth that it may be a repeat offense,” she mentioned. “I simply needed to warn different individuals and attempt to cease this from taking place once more.”

Ms. Dunford echoed her sentiment.

“I’m not one to make TikToks, it’s just like the second video I’ve ever made in my life,” she mentioned within the interview. “My intention right here very, very clearly is that individuals ought to know that this is happening.”


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