No help to injured woman, Commissioner Portune sounds off on "la - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

No help to injured woman, Commissioner Portune sounds off on "lack of compassion"

Chief of Staff Kathy Binns slipped and fell in the middle of Walnut Street, breaking her wrist. (Source: Ben Katko, FOX19 NOW) Chief of Staff Kathy Binns slipped and fell in the middle of Walnut Street, breaking her wrist. (Source: Ben Katko, FOX19 NOW)
People helping a girl after she fell (Source: Ben Katko, FOX19 NOW) People helping a girl after she fell (Source: Ben Katko, FOX19 NOW)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

If you saw someone fall in front of you on a busy city sidewalk, would you stop and help?

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is raising some concerns about a perceived lack of compassion for others.

In a letter given by Portune, he cited an incident last week involving his Chief of Staff Kathy Binns.  Binns slipped and fell in the middle of Walnut Street, breaking her wrist. 

“Because while my Chief of Staff– a career professional–lay on the ground with her purse and belongings strewn about, business men and women walked on by.  When Kathy tried to get up, but couldn’t, other very able bodied persons ignored her, failed to help and walked on by.  And what is most disappointing, as Kathy sat on the sidewalk and asked several people directly if they would help her get up, they looked at her and then carefully stepped around her and went on their way without so much as uttering a word,” Portune wrote.

"I was saying to myself, 'What is wrong with people?  I don't even believe this.  What is wrong with people?'  Again, I say it was heartbreaking.  I broke my arm and I broke my heart,” Binns said on Tuesday.

When Binns fell, people continued to walk by until she asked for help.  Even then, people kept walking before two men eventually stopped to help her.

"I didn't even think about asking anyone to help me because I just assumed that somehow I guess in my subconscious that they would,” Binns said.

That situation is what prompted the letter from Portune.  He pleads with people to think twice and do the right thing.

“I certainly hope that none of us has to suffer the same lack of compassion and concern that my friend and colleague was shown on a Cincinnati business day afternoon.  I write this in an effort to spark a discussion and provoke a reaction by all to vow that each of us will do the right thing regardless of who is in distress and allow our basic humanity to always win out over indifference to the plight of others,” Portune wrote.

Several people didn’t hesitate to help in an experiment after someone fell in front of them in Fountain Square and Smale Riverfront Park.

"I just feel like that's the nice thing to do,” said Elizabeth Simpson who came to help at Fountain Square.

"I don't like to just walk on by,” said Natalie Bruker who helped at the park.

Behavior like this is exactly what Binns and Portune are trying to hammer home.

"It's a conversation that really needs to be had.  We have so many wonderful things happening here in Cincinnati.  None of those mean anything at all unless we seriously, truly care about one another,” Binns said.

Below is Portune's full letter: 

We Are All Much Better Than This

On Wednesday this past week [August 12th], while walking back to her office all alone, my Chief of Staff Kathy Binns suffered a slip and fall in the middle of the afternoon on Walnut Street downtown. As she tried to brace herself with her left hand, the pressure of the fall snapped and broke her wrist.

It happened on a typical workday afternoon – cars rushing by on the street and crowded sidewalks of people at work hustling to their next midday appointment.

That’s what makes what happened so callous, so shocking and so unbelievable for Cincinnati, Ohio, that I feel compelled to write this letter in the hope that it sparks a conversation about civility and results in a firm and solemn promise to treat each other with respect, compassion and understanding.

Because while my Chief of Staff– a career professional–lay on the ground with her purse and belongings strewn about, business men and women walked on by.  When Kathy tried to get up, but couldn’t, other very able bodied persons ignored her, failed to help and walked on by.  And what is most disappointing, as Kathy sat on the sidewalk and asked several people directly if they would help her get up, they looked at her and then carefully stepped around her and went on their way without so much as uttering a word.

Finally, two young men who are recent emigres to America came to Kathy’s aid; gathered up her belongings; helped her to her feet; and made certain she could get to where she could call for help.

Almost 50 years ago in a well-documented and publicized event, a young woman was stabbed to death in a New York City neighborhood while dozens of people watched from the safety of their own living room windows and did nothing to help.  The event set off a firestorm of public outcry with people throughout the nation vowing to get involved and to never let their own complacency, fears or anxieties cause them to fail to do the right thing when confronted with such an event.

In the same context, I write to you, the People of Greater Cincinnati, about this incident.

There are many well publicized events happening all around us these days that can prey upon our own personal fears, anxieties and concerns to such a degree that people choose simply to refuse to “get involved” when their fellow human beings are in need and in distress.  In Kathy’s case, two modern day Good Samaritans came to her assistance while many others who were more than able to help did not.

I certainly hope that none of us has to suffer the same lack of compassion and concern that my friend and colleague was shown on a Cincinnati business day afternoon.  I write this in an effort to spark a discussion and provoke a reaction by all to vow that each of us will do the right thing regardless of who is in distress and allow our basic humanity to always win out over indifference to the plight of others.

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