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Someone Cared! Woman Called 911 in Richmond Rape Case

Margarita Vargas, an 18-year-old woman from Richmond, CA (and a graduate of Richmond High) was the lone person who called 911 on the night a teenager was gang raped outside her high school while a homecoming party was still going on. It's alleged that at least 20 people watched and did nothing. Vargas says that her brother-in-law came home and told her he'd seen a woman being raped; it was Vargas who insisted they call the police.

It might seem pretty sad that we're applauding Vargas for doing what people should do, as she said, "without thinking twice," but you'd be surprised how often people are apathetic. So many people are saying, "What do you expect of Richmond?" but I can say, as someone who was grabbed on the streets of San Francisco in broad daylight and ignored when I asked for help — apathy happens everywhere, in all communities. (Just read about the bystander effect.)

Many years ago, I was walking down a busy street in a popular business district in a "good neighborhood" and a man grabbed me inappropriately. I had just bought coffee, so instinctively, I poured it in his face and grabbed onto him, hoping to get him arrested. As I grappled with him, trying to make eye contact with people walking by, riding by on their bikes, driving by, and yelling, "Someone help! This man attacked me!" no one did anything. Eventually, I couldn't hold the man any longer, and he got away, perhaps to assault someone else later. Helping out is rarer than you think, so kudos to Margarita, who even walked over to the school to make sure the police had arrived.

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