We were assaulted in Taichung People’s Park.
Last night (May 4th, 2013), starting at about 9:30, my friends and I were assaulted, harassed, and then forced to apologize to a violent psycho. I wanted to get this out there as a warning and to ask for anyone’s advice as to what to do now. I’ll list a chronology of exactly what happened, followed by some comments.
At about 9:30, me and 8 of my friends (3 foreigners and 6 Taiwanese total) were having some beers in People’s Park by the 711. Suddenly a Taiwanese man with a mullet and glasses walked over, dragging his teenage son, screaming in mixed Chinese and English that his son was trash and he was going to beat him. A crowd began to gather.
One of my friends, a tourist who only arrived in Taiwan a few days ago, shouted for the man to leave his son alone. The man immediately began to scream at us in English, coming very close to us and slapping my foreign friend in the face. A larger crowd gathered, many people took videos and called the police. The man continued to scream at us, and one of my Taiwanese friends screamed back. The teenage son ran away almost immediately. The man refused to leave, but once we began ignoring him he walked away. We thought it was fine. Many Taiwanese who had watched expressed concern for us and pointed out that the man was crazy and best ignored.
After about 20 minutes, the police came. Our Taiwanese friend told them what happened, and several witnesses agreed with us. The police left after about 10 minutes.
Suddenly, about 20 minutes later, the man returned with his wife. She had a camera and filmed while he screamed in our faces, shouted that foreigners were trash and anyone who associated with them was trash, slapped and kicked and manhandled my friends, and refused to leave. Every time he became physical, his wife would turn the camera away. He made lewd gestures and continuously tried to get us to hit him. Nearby Taiwanese and my friends immediately called the police again.
This time, the police took 45 MINUTES to come to People’s Park. Many Taiwanese, expressing sympathy, became bored and left while waiting for them to arrive. Most of my friends and I scattered, with three staying with the psycho and his wife while the rest of us moved to another part of the park and ignored them. The psycho continued to make lewd gestures, mock us, and say that he was better than us because he was Taiwanese and we were foreign trash. He said we were drunk and had insulted him. His wife said absolutely nothing. I think that she edited the video while waiting to erase as much of her husband’s provocative behavior as possible.
When the police came, almost all of the Taiwanese witnesses had left. The police spoke to my 3 friends and another nearby witness. The rest of us watched from afar. They talked for about an hour before taking everyone to the station for 2 more hours. The police said that all evidence pointed to my friends starting the altercation for no reason, because we were drinking beers, my friend said “fuck you” to the man in front of the police, and the one witness they spoke to hadn’t seen the whole incident. My friend who had said “fuck you” was forced to sign a written apology to keep from staying overnight to see a judge in the morning to hear whether he could be sued or not. The man was massively self-righteous and demanded a more sincere apology.
When we talked to the Taiwanese witnesses nearby, every single one told us that the police in Taiwan were useless. I think what the man wanted to do was get us to hit him so that he could sue and get money.
Even though the incident is over, I just want to warn people so that they know that if incidents like this happen, don’t trust the police and just leave. Most Taiwanese people are friendly and kind and I love Taiwanese culture and society, but the police are incompetent and unmotivated.
Hello, I just wanted to send an update.
First of all, we actually did take videos and pictures. These made the man angrier, because he said we were defaming him. The police didn’t care about our videos because they were “too dark”. However, they also didn’t care about the video that the man’s wife took.
The police told us that the man demanded they go to his home with him and reprimand his son, and they did so. So I think perhaps it wasn’t a planned scam, but the second time he came he tried to get us to hit him and make money.
My Taiwanese friend’s father is a policeman. I asked her to ask him, and he said that it was the police’s fault for being lazy. We had to call them twice to come the 2nd time and they took 45 minutes to come to the center of town, despite having already been there and hearing witness statements corroborating our story. They refused to prosecute the man because they said there wasn’t “enough evidence”, despite witnesses telling them what had happened. Overall, my friend’s fathers and our opinions was that they were simply trying to do the least amount of work possible and didn’t bear any real malice.
I should remark that at least the police were polite and had a semblance of fairness. When my friend was attacked by drunks in Korea, he was told by the police that it was his fault for leaving his home country, and they were complete assholes.
- We will be contacting the embassy and are thinking of contacting media outlets (it’s already been on the Taiwanese-language news, apparently). However, MORE THAN ANYTHING, I just want to teach what I learned SO THAT THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TO ANYONE ELSE. I had no idea what was happening, it was so unprecedented in my six-month experience in Taiwan. In retrospect, I wish we had walked away but we really thought the man would just give up and leave at first, and when he came back we wanted to wait for the police to prosecute him for hitting us.
So, the lessons:
Walk away from confrontations
Don’t expect the police to behave anything like they would in the West