The video of a teenage girl’s random assault that has London up in arms

British police have released this very disturbing video, reportedly captured by a nearby closed-circuit camera, of a man attacking a 16-year-old girl for what authorities say is no discernible reason.

Crime is a major political issue in London, though a United Nations report found that it was one of the safest capital cities in the world. "Nevertheless, crime remains a concern for many Londoners and a key battleground in the mayoral election," the BBC explained earlier this year. Incumbent Boris Johnson won reelection a month later, but crime has often remained in the city's media spotlight.

This latest incident seems to hit on the city's anxieties that they're not as safe as they might feel. After all, what could be safer than a young woman walking down the street in the middle of the day, and what could be more random and senseless than this attack? That may explain the local media's captivation with the story.

The Daily Mail called the assailant the "most brutal thug in Britain," which maybe says as much about the United Kingdom's relatively safety as it does about the brutality of this attacker. The three adjectives that the tabloid Daily Mirror managed to squeeze into their lead sentence say it all: "shocking," "vile," and "innocently." London 24, in its interview with the victim, plays up her ominous quote: "I hope I am his last victim."

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Max Fisher · November 20, 2012