But when two men did exactly that on a Portland train, they were stabbed to death.
So what is a bystander to do? Should you confront the attacker and try to de-escalate the situation? Or should you avoid getting involved?
Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Micah Fletcher saw two girls being berated on a Portland light rail train. They didn’t sit still.
“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,”
When the trio of men tried to calm the suspect, all three were stabbed. Best and Meche died; Fletcher was stabbed 1 millimeter away from his jugular.
Scott said it’s likely difficult, if not impossible, for those good Samaritans to have predicted the assailant would try to kill them.
“In this society, we’re raised to not allow bullies to engage in racist behavior and to intervene verbally.
So what should you do?
Scott, who worked in law enforcement for three decades, said ultimately the decision on whether to intervene is a highly personal one.
But if you do want to act, Scott suggests considering the following:
— Is the perpetrator much larger than you?
— Does he or she appear to be intoxicated or mentally unstable?
— If things get ugly, is there an easy escape route? Or are you stuck in a confined area?
If you still decide to intervene, “Understand it’s a fluid situation that can go from bad to worse,” Scott said.
“That’s another dilemma that the public faces to help their fellow man or person … these are the types of things that are occurring in a split second, and people have to make split-second decisions.”