Last week, 22-year old Vernon Hackett witnessed a horrific beating unfolding in front of his eyes at a McDonalds outside of Baltimore, MD. 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis had come into the restaurant to use the restroom and had just emerged from it when a 14-year-old and 18-year-old friend began attacking her. The two attackers continue to kick Polis repeatedly in the head, as customers and employees at the McDonalds watch. Horrifically, she appears to suffer a seizure towards the end of the attack and lies on the floor without anyone providing any assistance to her. In fact, Hackett urges the two attackers to flee “before the police come.” You can watch the attack on video below (WARNING: some may find the video graphic and disturbing):
The story gets more complicated from there. Polis is transgendered and apparently refused to use the restroom. In the days following the incident, reports of Polis’ own criminal record appeared on the Internet (you can find them if you want) and she issued a statement saying her race may have played a role in the attack. The man who filmed in the video, Hackett, was fired from McDonalds.
Much to their credit, McDonalds quickly issued a statement condemning the attack and saying, “We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling.” They are looking at the incident and discipling employees as appropriate. Equality Maryland has asked for the police to charge the attackers with a “hate crime.”
Attacks like these are part of a larger, and more disturbing, trend. Technology has made it frighteningly easy for anyone to become a reporter and someone who can capture news as it unfolds. Unfortunately, this also means that many people overlook the chance to help other people in need. I saw this occur after the Earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan as well. People had their phones and cameras out, capturing incredible footage of the events, but not helping the thousands of people trapped around them.
An additional risk happens as people put themselves into increasingly precarious predicaments just to capture those shots. I totally get the desire to do so; I think I might be one of these people. However, we need to take a moment and put our cameras down. Another person’s life is far more valuable than 10,000 views on YouTube.