A Street Blessing

Well, it finally happened. After more than two decades of living and working in many of America's meanest streets, I was mugged. As a veteran urban pastor, organizer, and even a gang truce adviser, I'm embarrassed to say that they took me by surprise. It

was only 6 o'clock in the evening-during rush hour. I suppose I watch my back better after midnight. But these guys were so fast and bold, I'm not sure it would have made any difference.

Needing a few things at the store before an early morning flight, I headed out to my pick-up truck parked at 13th and Fairmont Streets NW, right around the corner from where I live in D.C.'s 14th Street corridor.

Looking over my shoulder in response to the sound of running feet, I saw four young men bearing down on me. The first one hit my slightly turned head with something sharp enough to open a cut above my left eye. The force of the blow and a push from two others sent me to the pavement. One of them yelled, "Keep him down! Get his wallet!" It finally registered. These guys were trying to roll me over.

I popped up quickly, which seemed to surprise them. Seeing no weapons flashed, I squared to face my attackers. This was the first chance we had to really see each other face to face. They were just kids-three about 15 or 16, and one little one who couldn't have been more than 13.

The boys backed up a little when they saw I was bigger than they had expected. I'm a strong believer in nonviolence, but have learned that being a weightlifter often helps in these potential confrontations. The one who had hit me moved into a boxing stance while the others circled. The little guy began attempting some ineffectual karate kicks, which I assumed he had seen on television.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1995
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