Bay Area business offers self-defense classes after recent public transit attacks

Luz Pena Image
Thursday, January 19, 2023
SF business offers self-defense classes after BART, Muni attacks
A San Francisco business is offering a self-defense workshop specifically for public transit riders, following recent attacks on BART and Muni.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We've seen violent crimes happen on both on BART and Muni. Now a local business in San Francisco is offering a self-defense workshop specifically for those who take public transit.

Images of people being robbed or attacked while taking public transit like the 79-year-old woman in San Francisco, who was brutally kicked in the stomach last Dec. have increased the desire for some to learn how to defend themselves.

"I hear from my friends. I got robbed or I have seen people just be attacked," said Claudia Mendez, a San Francisco resident.

INTERACTIVE: Take a look at the ABC7 Neighborhood Safety Tracker

Claudia Mendez takes public transit everyday and is constantly on high alert.

"I start thinking about the entrances. Do I look like prey?" said Mendez.

She is one of the students who signed up for a class being advertised as a public transit self-defense workshop. Moses Rickett, with Tactica Krav Maga, is the instructor behind it.

Pena: "What are you going to teach people?"

Rickett: "First of all, de-escalation and prevention. That is the first key to self-defense. Not fighting. Fighting is never the answer but when it is it's the only answer."

Let's look at the data. SFMTA's Chief security officer says crimes are still happening, but there is not an uptick. SFPD is reporting about 2.14 Muni related crimes per 100,000 miles.

"Because ridership is still as low as it is those crimes are still occurring and it's creating a perception of fear and feeling unsafe," said Kimberly Burrus, SFMTA chief security officer.

Burrus said their partnership with SFPD is key to keep riders safe and pointed to arrest made in the attack of the 79-year-old woman.

EXCLUSIVE: 79-year-old woman kicked in stomach on SF Muni bus, highlighting increase in attacks

A 79-year-old woman is speaking out after being kicked in the stomach by a passenger while boarding a San Francisco Muni bus to go to work.

"That incident highlights the partnership that we have with our police partners. That incident occurred and we shared evidence that information got out to the public and everyone was aware of it, and they were able to eventually make an arrest of an individual," said Burrus.

On BART, Violent crimes are up 57% year to date through Nov.2021 compared to Nov. 2022. In a statement, they said in part:

"From January through November, we averaged roughly one violent crime a day. But that's still well below what we saw pre-pandemic."

Pena: "The fact that you are even offering a class like this. What does that say about what's happening in our city?"

Rickett: "It's sad."

MORE: 1 killed, 1 hurt in shooting on Muni train; SFPD releases images of person of interest

Full BART statement:

"BART has a historically high number of uniformed safety staff on platforms and trains, including police officers dedicated to riding trains, new unarmed ambassadors, community service officers and fare inspectors. Crisis intervention specialists help those experiencing homelessness or struggling with mental health or addiction. Increased attention is being paid to keep station entryways clear and safe. BART is working to increase safety for girls and gender expansive youth through our Not One More Girl campaign to end sexual harassment and gender-based violence on transit.

Like most large transit agencies across the nation, we've seen an increase in crime compared with the early days of the pandemic as some riders have returned to the system. From January through November, we averaged roughly one violent crime a day. But that's still well below what we saw pre-pandemic. As an example, we had 499 violent crimes in the system from January through November in 2019 while we had 320 such incidents in that same time span of 2022.

All our crime data is available to the public at in the monthly chief's reports."

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