Welcome to Bayside part 2- A bloody brawl in the street

On a balmy summer night this past July I decided to take the dog for a walk around the Deering Oaks park. I had just moved into Bayside a few weeks prior, and I was still getting used to the almost-lawless feel that the neighborhood takes on once the sun goes down.

Bayside does not have very much vehicle traffic so it’s a relatively quiet neighborhood, particularly at night. The neighborhood’s streetlights are pretty poorly lit, so the foot traffic is quite low as well after dark.

The Portland Post Office on Forest Avenue. Photo- Troy R. Bennett, BDN.

The Portland Post Office on Forest Avenue. Photo- Troy R. Bennett, BDN.

On my way to the park, I approached the post office building on the corner of Forest and Park Avenues- one of the city’s most trafficked intersections by day.
From about a block away, I could see a couple dozen people milling around on the sidewalk near the bus stop benches. As I got closer, the group appeared to consist almost entirely of young males around the age of 20.

From about a half a block away, it became clear that this was not a friendly gathering, it was an angry conflict. There had been no punches thrown, but voices were starting to rise and the group was beginning to cluster closer and closer together.

The cluster migrated a bit to the post office lawn as I made my way around them on the sidewalk, then I jogged across Forest Ave to the perimeter of the park. As I passed by the group it looked as if there was one guy standing in the middle of the cluster, sort of being surrounded.

I stopped under the shadow of a tree across the street and watched as several of the people surrounding the man in the middle began pushing and shoving him back and forth. The man back pedaled as the group swarmed after him, spilling out into the middle of the intersection.

Bird's eye view of Portland Street and Park Avenue, the post office is the large brick building on the right side of the street in the middle of the photo. Photo credit- Corey Templeton, Portland Daily Photo.

Bird’s eye view of Portland Street and Park Avenue, the post office is the large brick building on the right side of the street in the middle of the photo. Photo credit- Corey Templeton, Portland Daily Photo.

Then, just as it looked as if the whole thing might be over, the only woman that I could discern from the crowd ran towards the man and sucker punched him right in the face. The man fell to the ground, and the woman stood over him delivering several more blows to his face and head before the others joined in.

The lone man was now receiving punches from all directions, so I immediately dialed 9-1-1, knowing that as soon as the group saw the blue lights of a police cruiser approaching they would disperse.

As I explained the scene to the dispatcher, three of the men began stomping the victim’s head into the ground.

My voice began to rise as I pleaded with the dispatcher to get a police officer there immediately, “they’re stomping his head into the pavement! They’re gonna kill him!”

The dispatcher stayed calm, and told me that an officer was on his way. Moments later, I saw a police cruiser coming down High Street, only to take a left in the direction of Hadlock Field rather than a right in the direction of the brawl.

At that point I got really frustrated, “what the f$@%!,” I yelled into the phone, “the cop just drove away from the fight, they’re taking turns stomping on this kid’s head!”

“Sir, I understand your concern,” the dispatcher said to me, “but there was another call that we had to respond to, another officer is on his way.”

“What could possibly be more important than saving this guy’s life?” I exclaimed.

A few moments later another police officer pulled up to the scene of the brawl, and I decided to get the dog some of the exercise that he had begun whining at me for as I stood there on the phone. I gave the dispatcher quick descriptions of the men who had been doing the stomping, and told her I’d be happy to help in any other way that I could.

The dispatcher asked if I’d be willing to fill out a statement, and I told her that I would once I finished my lap around the park, to which she thanked me.
But when I returned to the scene about 15 minutes later there was no sign of any police officers, no ambulance for the man who had certainly suffered brain injury, and no arrests had been made or statements taken.

In fact, the only person still present at the scene was the man who had been beaten and stomped. He was walking in a wide, staggering zig-zag pattern right down the middle of Portland Street, blood streaming from his face and covering his white shirt.

The young man stumbled down the street, holding his head and groaning, before shuffling down a dark alley. I had been walking about twenty paces behind him, so when I passed by the alley I looked for him to make sure he was alright, but he was gone, leaving behind only a trail of trickling blood as he disappeared into the night.

Photo by Chris Shorr, BDN.

Photo by Chris Shorr, BDN.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.