The death of Mohammad Anwar during an attempted carjacking in Washington, D.C. this month has produced all sorts of consternation, both on social media and in the mainstream press. The deadly attack by two girls who are only ages 13 and 15 seemed to come as a shock to many. The Mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, attempted to engage in the conversation about a recent spate of similar crimes on social media, but quickly found that the wolves were at her digital doorstep. To see some of the responses, you’d think that she had invoked Hitler’s name, but digging into the details, it turns out that this was clearly a case of good intentions being twisted out of proportion. (Washington City Paper)
Mayor Muriel Bowser deleted a tweet with tips to prevent auto thefts Sunday evening after receiving significant backlash and accusations of victim blaming.
The now-erased tweet, sent from Herronor’s official account, came less than a week after Uber driver Mohammad Anwar was killed in an attempted carjacking near Nationals Park. Anwar died at a hospital on March 24. A graphic video of the incident began circulating on social media over the weekend. On Sunday, Bowser’s official account tweeted “Auto theft is a crime of opportunity. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target. Remember the motto, #ProtectYourAuto” along with a video of five tips for preventing auto theft.
You can see a screen capture of the now-deleted tweet at the link, but here’s the full text of the rather brief tweet. “Auto theft is a crime of opportunity. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target. Remember the motto, #ProtectYourAuto”
The City Newspaper described Bowser’s tweet as “tone-deaf,” which I really don’t understand. But clearly, others felt the same way. Here’s just one response from followers who were angered by the Mayor’s instincts and supposed lack of sensitivity.
Just unbelievable. Even if Mohammed Anwar had not been recently killed in one of these carjackings, the onus is not on the victims of crimes to "protect your auto." Carjackings are a huge problem in DC, and it's often delivery drivers (who are often immigrants) who are targeted. https://t.co/tTxnVlL3ih
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) March 28, 2021
Bowser is being accused of victim-blaming, but was she? Her office claims that the tweet was prescheduled and part of a campaign to raise awareness of the increase in carjackings, along with providing safety tips on how to avoid becoming a victim yourself. It’s also worth noting that the tweet was posted days after Anwar was killed and it didn’t mention him by name or even suggest his specific death was the cause for tweeting it. There have been enough of these crimes recently that the city set up a special carjacking task force.
I might have suggested that if Bowser was at fault in any way, it was for sending out that tweet too soon after Anwar’s death. But the problem with that theory is that if you wanted to wait a week after the last carjacking to put the message out, the message would never go out. The carjackings are just coming at too fast of a pace.
Isn’t it part of a mayor’s job to keep her citizens safe? When there is that much of a particular type of crime going on, people should be taking precautions. And not everyone is going to think of the best ways to avoid being the next to have a gun shoved in their face at a stoplight. It just seems to me that putting that sort of public safety information out there was the right thing to do.
As any regular readers already know, I haven’t been one of Bowser’s biggest fans during her tenure. I could recite an entire laundry list of policy issues where we don’t see eye to eye. But that doesn’t mean she should be blasted on social media when she’s actually trying to do her job.