Editor’s note: Police were called to the scene of a “raccoon attack” on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street on Sunday. But far from an attack, the raccoon was simply minding its business when a horde of humans started gathering around, one witness tells us in the account below.
By Kate Koza
I left my apartment around 9 a.m. to procure a bagel at Muffins Cafe on Columbus Ave between 70th and 71st Streets. Upon exiting the premises of the cafe, I noticed a few people pointing towards 71st Street. A raccoon (I’d put him/her at about 12 pounds, medium build, standard raccoon complexion) was casually walking down the sidewalk on the west side of the street.
Prior to reaching us at the cafe, he/she crossed the street (did not look both ways, apparently he missed that unit in elementary school) and climbed up the trunk of a sidewalk tree on the east side of the street. By this time, a small group of onlookers had formed, half of whom seemed sympathetic to the raccoon, and half of whom might as well have been chanting “Lock him up!” There was much talk of the scourge of Central Park distemper.
The raccoon casually climbed down from the tree a few minutes later, strolled a bit, and climbed up and down another tree a few feet up the block on the east side (towards 71st). One woman was very upset that people were stopping to take pictures, vehemently saying it “wasn’t cute” and that it posed a danger. I overheard a few calls to the police and animal control, one claiming an attack that there was absolutely no evidence of. The same person who claimed the attack was bafflingly also blaming the de Blasio administration. There was no evidence that anyone in the vicinity was injured, had been bitten, etc. Everyone was merely intrigued.
I returned to my apartment on 72nd Street after observing the raccoon for about 20 minutes, and when I came back down thirty minutes later (around 10 a.m.), the raccoon had moved to a different tree closer to 72nd Street on the east side of Columbus, and there were police and onlookers everywhere. Three police cars, a police truck, and the sidewalk had been roped-off with crime scene tape. The raccoon was nestled on a branch much too flimsy to support its bodacious physique, and had to readjust multiple times so as not to tumble out of the tree. numerous officers, including one with an animal control wand/stick were waiting below. Twenty minutes later, the raccoon hadn’t moved (its little face was gazing downward at everyone in seeming terror), and the police left and the crowd dispersed.
I would like to emphasize that I feel the suspect has been wrongly accused of any number of crimes including, but not limited to, assault on a homo sapien.
Photos (except for top one) and videos by Kate Koza.