On the morning of April 1, a man followed fourth-year psychology major Em Bass into their building on North Chestnut Street and up two flights of stairs to their apartment as they went to pick up their Doordash order. The man stared at them as he walked up, moving faster and faster to match their speed.
The man is described as around 35 years old, with dark skin and a shaved head. He is around 5’9” to 5’11.” Bass reported the incident to the New Paltz police and was told that two similar reports have previously been made.
The man was said to be holding a package but was not a delivery man. Additionally, no one in the house knew the man either.
As of April 12 the post has 152 reactions and 104 comments.
Bass contacted the New Paltz police, however, no official report was filed despite multiple other people reporting similar occurrences to the police.
The New Paltz Police Department did not respond to our request for comment in time for this article’s publication.
However, when asked about the community response Bass said, “the community was great. multiple people reached out asking if I was okay, and even a local door dasher offered to sit outside the house until I retrieved my order to make sure no one followed me in.”
Since the occurrence Bass has not seen the man again, but numerous other girls have come forward with similar encounters either via the posts’ comments or in Bass’ direct messages.
According to stop street harassment.org, 75% of women have been followed by a stranger.
The results of Gallup’s annual Crime Survey, conducted in 2014, found that 37% of U.S. adults say they would not feel safe walking alone near their home at night. By gender, 45% of women said they do not feel safe walking alone at night, compared with 27% of men.
In 2014, Stop Street Harassment found that in a survey of 2,000 people in the USA, 65% of all women had been harassed on the street. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched and 20% had been followed.
To protect yourself from street harassment check out Hollaback!
Hollaback! is a nonprofit organization working to end harassment. They provide free training to the public as well as customized training experiences for businesses, organizations, schools and colleges.
Hollaback! teaches bystander intervention using a 5D’s method: distract, delegate, document, delay and direct.
“The Five D’s are different methods you can use to support someone who’s being harassed, emphasize that harassment is not okay, and demonstrate to people in your life that they too have the power to make our communities and workplaces safer,” reads their Bystander Resources.
The 5D’s goes as follows; distract, take an indirect approach to de-escalate the situation; delegate, get help from someone else; document, it can be helpful for the target to have a video of the incident. Laws about recording in public vary, so check local laws first; delay, after the incident is over, check in with the person who was harassed; direct, assess your safety first. Speak up about the harassment. Be firm and clear.