The Boston Police Department is offering two free self-defense programs for women who live in East Boston after a spate of assaults in recent weeks, including one attack on Friday night.
“It’s important for our department to offer our community members a better understanding of what they can do to protect themselves in the event of an attack,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans in a statement.
“Both programs are designed to educate and empower women, and while we certainly hope they’ll never have to use what they’ve learned, we still want them to have the benefit and peace of mind that accompanies the knowledge gained.”
The Friday attack occurred in the same East Boston neighborhood that two weeks ago saw three women assaulted within a few hours of each other. At around 6:18 p.m. Friday, police were called to Princeton Street where a woman said a man she did not know assaulted her and fled, said Officer Rachel McGuire.
That attack, said McGuire, does not appear to be linked to the earlier assaults, which occurred on Feb. 17, when three women reported being knocked down and assaulted, apparently by the same intoxicated man, on Trenton and Chelsea streets.
On Feb. 15, a young woman was indecently assaulted in the North End by a man who pushed her into the foyer of an apartment in the Unity Street area and took her picture before fleeing. That attack does not appear to be connected to the East Boston assaults, according to police.
Police stepped up patrols in East Boston and the North End after the assaults, which are still under investigation.
Two self-defense programs are available to residents free of charge. The first, called “Street Smarts: Reducing Your Odds of Becoming a Victim,” will be offered on Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Paris Street Community Center at 112 Paris St. in East Boston.
Sergeant Gary Eblan of the Boston Police Academy will discuss how an assailant chooses a victim, when and where an attack is likely to occur, and how to avoid becoming a target, according to police.
Police will also offer Rape Aggression Defense System self-defense training, which is a women-only course that teaches real-life self-defense techniques that can be used in an attack, according to police. Dates and locations have yet to be decided . Anyone interested in attending either course can call the district Community Service Office at 617-343-4752.
No arrests have yet been made in any of the attacks. The suspect in Friday night’s attack was described as a 6-foot-tall black man dressed all in black. The suspect in the Feb. 17 East Boston attacks was described as a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s with a mole or mark on his left cheek, and the North End suspect was described as a white man in his 20s with blue eyes. Anyone with information should call the Sexual Assault Unit at 617-343-4400, or leave an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-494-TIPS or texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).