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April 25, 2011

"I'm not a hero. I would have done it for anyone"

Vicky Thoms says she's no hero, that she'd have stepped in to help anyone.

What the 55-year-old from Rosedale did was try to break up a brutal beating of a transgendered 22-year-old at a McDonald's, which was captured on video and broadcast around the world on the Internet.

The person who shot the video, a McDonald's employee who has been fired, did not try to help, and in fact warned the suspects to leave because the police were on their way. Here is what Thoms told Sun reporter Erica L. Green (who also took the picture of her above):

"I knew she was clinging on to her life. ... I just keep seeing it over and over again. ... It's terrible that a human being had to go through that."

More follows:

Thoms said she watched the beating for about two minutes, "I couldn't take it anymore." She was afraid to intervene because she has a back injury. She also said she had no idea the victim was transgendered, but added, "It wouldn't have mattered."

"I think McDonalds should take responsibility for this," Thoms said. "I want to see every single one of their employees involved fired."

Of the video, she said, "It makes me sick to watch it. ... I'm not a hero, I would have done it for anyone. That's why I stepped in, they're going to kill her."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:35 PM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Baltimore County


Yes, You are a hero. Thank you

she should have them arested too, and proceute hem too for massault. Maybe sue and get their gettto welfare for a month or two. These animals should be in jail and kept there! Or maybe evn hung by their female parts!!!

The fact that Ms Thoms "would have done it for anyone" doesn't make her any less a hero. How many of us would have been so brave?

Thanks so much for trying to help! I'm glad you don't regret doing it even though you were hit yourself. You are a real hero for stepping in!!

This lady is the definition of a good person: she was compelled by her morals to be a good Samaritan.

Good for her. You not only were able to hear but also see men walking around watching these animals attack the victim. In fact, one was the coward recording the video warning the 2 thugs to run bc the cops were coming. If you ask me the people that witnessed it and those that worked there are ALMOST just as bad. No way I could stand by and watch that happen even if it were grown men beating on someone like that, much less a 14 and 18 year old girl. So sick seeing junk like this all the time now. Nation full of cowards for the most part.

Bud, maybe you should apply for welfare benefits, since your atrocious spelling and grammar (not to mention your violent racist rhetoric) would preclude you from even working at McDonald's.

Every other article on the website states the victim to be 22 years of age, but in the article above she is referred to as "a transgendered teen."

Please correct as appropriate.
Thank you

I have read in the Sun people calling politicians "courageous" for voting to protect the sexually confused. I and others questioned the use of the term.

This woman IS courageous to the definition of the word. She put her well being on the line for a stranger.

THAT is courage. Voting one way or another is not!

Rusty, Perfect response!!! next time use smaller words so bud can understand it...

As i watched the video i wonder why the manager didn't do more to secure the location. Once the attackers leave the restaurant why not lock the doors or move the victim to a secure area until the police arrive. There is a lot of speculation that the attack was motivated by the orientation of the victim but unless I’m missing something the video shows the fight already in progress. I am not condoning the violent attack but I would like there to be some proof that it was hate crime. Maybe I’m being naïve but I can’t imagine just walking up to someone and beating on them just because they choice to live differently.

Well done Ms Thoms. You are a hero and this state, this country, needs many more like you.

mcdonalds should be boycotted theyu say they only fired one person and as everyone know there are more employees that are just as guilty as the video person not one employee kept working they all stoped to watch just like all beatings if you hear it you are going to watch the owner of mcdonalds is playing kids games by letting any of the employees that were on shift keep there job

Vicky Thoms, you are a hero to me and to many other people. I do believe that what goes around comes around.

I guess if it was just a straight white girl attacked by two blacks it would not be a hate crime. It only got media attention because it is a sexual minority. White people are attacked by blacks all the time in America, but national news only publicizes the revers once in a blue moon cases.

Yes Ms. Thoms, you are very much a hero.

THANK YOU for doing the right thing while other people laughed and did nothing!!!

I'd call her a hero but even if she isn't a hero, she was an exceptionally decent, responsible and brave person, which is just another way of saying she was a hero.

When I think of Rosedale, I am not going to think of the attackers; I am going to think of her.

Ms Vicky Thoms, you are certainly a hero when a 55yo female is the only one who will step up in this situation. You are right also in that the entire shift staff should be fired!!! I hope you get free McDonalds for life. On behalf of Chrissey and TG all around the world, thank you.
New Zealand

Ms. Thoms, you are too modest. You are indeed a hero, and I thank you. I want to send you flowers and hugs. Keep being such a wonderful, good person. We need more people like you in the world.

Yes Erica, you are being naive.

Unprovoked verbal attacks, physical attacks and brutal killings. Those are the very real risks, as the sad statistics point out each year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, that are faced each and every day.

@Erica- Unfortunately it is true that the gay/transgender community is always targets of violence regardless if its provoked or not. Its sad to say that we still live in a society who commit such vicious acts of violence on people who are simply being who they are. I'd like to commend Ms. Thoms on being so courageous and brave to step in when no one else would. God Bless you!!!

How can you possibly blame the employees? What in their $7.50 hourly pay makes them responsible for stopping assaults? The only thing they should have done is dialed 911 and tried to verbally stop it.

What if the attacker had a knife? I'm just saying it's tougher to get involved than you think.

Yes you most certainly are a hero! You are one of a kind Ma'am and much admired. Most of these modern parents today would have continued to record and place it on YouTube! That was not cute at all what they did! Those girls were a bunch of idiots, plain and simple!

The only compassion and human warmth in that horrific restaurant was from Ms. Thoms. I hate to think of what would have happened if she hadn't been there.

Ms. Thoms is a hero and we need to clone her. Honestly, her story should be told over and over again to the young and the old as an example of courage and character.

Ms. Thoms is most defiantly a hero, she did the right thing and showed herself to be a good citizen.

Compare that to the cowardly words of Citizens For Responsible Government, whom are raising money for the defence of the attackers by sending out this email:

Allowing Transgendered people into Restaurants or Restrooms causes trouble, and may endanger other patrons.

As we have seen from this shocking video, whether the Transgendered person is the assailant or not, the facts are that wherever these people go, there is violence, and innocent people can get hurt - in this case, a senior citizen. No-one is safe.

Thanks to the wisdom of the Maryland Senate, it is still legal to forbid service to Transgendered people. McDonalds Corporation in Maryland has thus no choice but to ban all Transgendered people from their premises, in order to ensure the safety of other patrons.

If they do not, then they will be liable for civil action by anyone who gets hurt by their negligence and irresponsible catering to this violence-prone gender-confused and mentally-ill minority.

"Leroy", you are a liar and an idiot, and also need to look up Maryland's definition of what constitutes legal self-defense in the state. I'm more concerned with protecting 14-year-olds from the likes of you.

First off, Ma'am, you ARE a hero - you're just not wearing a uniform or getting a medal. More's the pity.

Secondly, it was openly a hate crime: the victim is clearly heard on the video asking "Where am I supposed to go?", referring to her presence in the women's room, where the 2 little ignorant creeps didn't think she belonged.

I could see their anger if they truly thought this was a man trying to sneak into the women's rest room, but they were only angry because one of their boyfriends tried to strike up a conversation with her. THAT's what started it all. Once they had gotten out of the restroom & it was clear that their victim was presenting as a female with no ulterior motive, all violence ceased to have even a shred of justification. A hate crime, through & through.

Thank you, Ms. Thoms, for doing what was right. If more people would follow her lead, the world would be a much better place.

Ms Thomas is a hero in California. She's all over the forums. Girl got friends here.

It's an inspiration to me when I see someone just naturally doing something so kind and courageous to help another human being, and that person just happens to get caught on video. It seems both the best, and the worst, in people can be seen in that film.

Ms Thoms is not a heroine - in her own eyes. She did what any decent human being would do.

Do you know how RARE that is?

I have a son, and if he is to be a Man he could do worse than take lessons on being a decent human being from Ms Thoms. That's a pre-requisite.

Ms Thoms is a hero. Ms Thoms risked her own safety to aid another person. This story is 2-fold. One part of story is about someone being beaten because they are transgendered and the other part of the story is about a person willing to risk her own safety (and possibly her own life) to aid another human being. Ms Thoms gives us all a lift knowing that kind people are still out there.

Hello, wake up call !!! We need to get involved all the time, dont just stand and watch!! We need to show these animals that we are taking the streets back !!!!!!

these 2 animals, deserve be in jail. Nobory deserve this. This amazing person, is a hero.

""I'm not a hero. I would have done it for anyone""

Isn't that, one of the definitions of hero, helping others even when it hurts you?

I don't think the employees should have stepped in to intervene since that was probably against company policy and people shouldn't be required to step into a fight and play hero at risk to themselves. But they did have the duty to call the police and not film the thing.

I don't understand....Christopher Polis is being referred to as a woman, aka Chrissy Polis...but the twin brother refers to Chrissy as "his brother" not his sister. So, even if Chrissy is transgendering is he still not a man? Everyone wants to be polictically correct so they refer to Chrissy as a woman. However, if Chrissy is a man then he should've been in the men's bathroom. If this was a black transgendered man in the bathroom with teen white girls, everyone would have called him a pervert and wanted his head on a platter! people are so hypocritical. It was not right for him to be beaten but don't be hypocrites!! Have you seen the history of Christopher Polis? He has a very long record in Balto County. Like I said if this was a Black Man with a criminal record in the bathroom with young white girls, even though transgendered and beaten,his butt would be in jail for endangering the lives of others. STOP acting like he wouldn't. Now, Chrissy I'm sure will get donations to become whatever he wants to be.

Thank you Ms. Thoms. As a friend of mine used to say, I'd share a foxhole with you anytime.

@ Leroy:
Assuming everything you say about the woman's actions are true, it does not excuse or justify the violent response by Ms. Brown and her accomplice. Even if she initially struck Ms. Pollis out of a sense of "self-defense", the continued attack upon her person is inexcusable and speaks volumes about the two girls involved and, their understanding (or lack thereof) of being members in a civil society. Again, assuming your statements to be true, the appropriate response is to report such actions to the police.
To be clear, if an individual exposed themselves to my child, I would take immediate steps to block my child's vision and remove my child from the setting. I would only resort to violence if the offender, in some way attempted to physically prevent me from doing either. I would then promptly report to the matter to the police. Further, if this was done to my 14 year old daughter, I would expect her to take similar actions and to avoid violence unless her physical safety was threatened.

As for the 14 year old's "trauma", had she reacted in a civil way, I would join in your concern. However, her response shows that the only trauma one need worry about with her is that which she inflicts on those different from her or from whom she perceives disrespect. In which case, it is clear she does not feel bound by any reasonable human response.

Your statements are so wrong from both a legal and ethical viewpoint that it is clear that you too have no concept of the rule of law and the duties we owe each others as citizens.

Most disheartening, however, is that your comments demonstrate a belief that violence and violent behavior are appropriate when confronted with something unpleasant or which you perceive to be illegal.

The older of these two girls should be imprisoned for a considerable length of time. Her actions were inexcusable and intolerable. As for the 14 year-old, I would hope she is young enough to see the error and to reform. I doubt it given the sheer animalistic attack in which she participated.

Leroy's outright lies need to be called out. What a pathetic attempt to spin this story.

The truth is on tape.

And the racists who are trying to make this about THEM need to be called out.

@ Oni_808 - Do I blame the employees for failing to “do their job” b/c they failed to physically inject themselves into the active fight and separate the combatants? No. I would agree that I don’t think that is in their job description.

I do blame the employees for not taking actions to prevent these two women from returning to the restaurant and for encouraging them to flee before the police arrive. They do have a duty and it is “in their job description” to take reasonable steps to provide a secure, safe public environment. They took no steps. None. Once the women left the restaurant, the employees could easily have stood by the doors and held them fast prohibiting the assailants re-entry. Further, to the extent any employee aided or abetted the assailants escape, I hope they are criminally prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Finally, employee or not, and as Ms. Thoms demonstrated so bravely, we are a society of people, I believe we have a moral and ethical duty to stand up and assist each other. As has been said by others for wiser than me, all it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.

Thank you Ms. Thoms for bravely doing what is right.

Ms Thoms is more than a Super Hero to me. It takes a lot of courage to do what she did for her age and conditions around the circumstances. We need more of these real human beings around us. Great Job Ms Thoms.

Rusty and Erica I hope the next time this happens it's not you, your wife or your kid that is being beating to death. Spelling or grammer the truth is the truth. In Baltimore blacks are dangerious and you both know it. Maybe if you lived with it and experienced it once you would not be bad mouthing me. These animals are the reason good people are leaving the cities of the USa as fast as they can get away. I bet you are both libs, who live far away from the hate and crime. Good luck to both of you, and I wish you both well. but you are so childish and dumb when it comes to real life.


Try again. Yes, I'm liberal, but I live in the city (Patterson Park to be exact- I've lived here for six years). Sure, we have our share of thugs and idiots of all colors, but like my law-abiding neighbors, I don't tolerate BS like this. You'll be amazed what can be accomplished when you get involved in your neighborhood. By the way, the last time I checked, Rosedale was in the suburbs, not Baltimore City.

As to me being "childish and dumb"- look in the mirror. Your writing skills obviously demonstrate that you are either mentally challenged or are suffering the effects of meth use.

Stop being a coward hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. Come to my neighborhood sometime, and see how long you'll last spewing your racist bile here.

@ D-Will of the people
first of all your terms are all screwed up
if there was a black transgendered woman (Male to female) in the womens bathroom. she wouldnt be seen as a pervert if she was simply using the bathroom and minding her own business. If the young white teens started arguing with her and the black transgendered woman didnt fight back there would be no altercation. It would just be another case of transphobic words thrown at the transgender female.

I regret to inform you that I am a Black woman who lives in Baltimore City. I am not violent, have never been arrested or in any type of trouble. My family has never been on welfare. I’ve never been in a gang and I can’t recall being in any fights growing up. I have lived here almost my entire life. I own a home and work a currently work as an engineer. I have a master’s degree in engineering. My brother is a practicing doctor. My cousins are accountants and teachers We were all educated in Baltimore City schools. To lump all black people into one category is narrow minded and ignorant at best. There are some people that are just bad people. Bad people transcend all races, gender, lifestyles and professions. Racial rhetoric does nothing to solve the problems that this City faces. It continues to keep people divided on superficial issues. If people can’t accept others because of race when we will ever get to a point where we can accept people regardless of lifestyle and religion.
I agree that the violence should not be condoned or accepted. But I take great exception to your saying all blacks are dangerous. Sir your ignorance is dangerous. The attack on the victim was heinous and the attackers should be punished. No one should be beaten that way. I hope you are able to broaden your opinions of people and not make such general statements. I hope you have an awaking or if not you keep your poisonous opinions to yourself

Well said, Erica! I can't stand that people are trying to make this about race. It had nothing to do with race whatsoever, and honestly, black transgender women have it even harder than white trans women. God, a serious issue comes along that ANYONE should be able to look at and say, "That's wrong, no one should be hurt that way," and instead of acknowledging that this sort of thing happens to trans and intersex people ALL the TIME, they have to whine about how poor and mistreated white people are. As a white woman, I'd like to tell those of you who fit that description to get a little perspective before you start whining.

I think what you did was a very brave and heart felt act. Someone here in Henderson N C went through something simular and actidently hit a pedestrian that ran out in front of his car and when he pulled over to help they pulled him out of the car and 8 or more people beat him while calling him a sorry white mother f'-er and threathened to kill him and they only got a midemeanor assault inflicting serious injuries A1 charge. I cried when I saw this video of them beating this person because i knew there pain and God bless you for being so brave.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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