Yesterday a man struck four cyclists with his car in the Potrero Hill area, one after the other, within six minutes, and police are treating it as aggravated assault. The first crash happened at 9:43p.m. in the 2700 block of Harrison Street, the second at the 2800 block of Harrison Street, the third at the intersection of 23rd and Pennsylvania streets, and the fourth at 17th and Missouri streets at 9:49 p.m. According to missionlocal.org, three of the victims had non-life threatening injuries and were taken to SF General Hospital. The fourth victim was treated at the scene. After the vehicle struck the fourth victim, the driver crashed the vehicle into a pole and fled on foot.
If you know the area of Potrero hill, you know that it is like no man’s land out there at night. During the day it is a vibrant place to walk, but it is isolated by the freeway and large sections of industrial space. Notwithstanding the busy restaurants and clubs, it feels deserted at night– as most of the streets are not well lit, and the only people you really see are in cars. I have never recommended anyone walk or ride their bike out there alone at night. With that said, some people have no other choice but to ride or walk in that area, considering all the service cuts to public transportation. And in no way, am I suggesting that these cyclists could have avoided this situation. Clearly, the man who hit them was on a rampage and is responsible.
Here at the Brod Law Firm, we wonder about people who commit aggravated assault. What could possibly have gotten into this man? Is he simply insane or severely maladjusted? Did he have a bad childhood or does he have a chemical imbalance? Did he wake up feeling powerless and decide to act out his frustration by running over four cyclists with his car. And, since the theory behind road rage is that automobiles are obedient and give the driver a false sense of power, do we just classify this story as a road rage incident and leave it at that?
Or are sporadic, unexplained acts of violence such as this a sign that our culture diseased? Are our social structures and our dumbed-down, neatly packaged depictions of violence leaving us feeling uneasy or, perhaps, guilty? We see violence everyday in the media and popular culture, but that violence doesn’t really touch our lives. All we have to do is shut the television off or stop reading the newspaper to forget about the fact that we are living on the backs of those less fortunate than us. The truth is we are all guilty and do little or nothing to remedy our situation. So is living with an uneasy conscience what leads certain individuals to commit barbarian acts of violence? It is just a thought.