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djmakinmoves

Just a little "Be carefull" for people next year.

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As I mentioned before, I didn't have any problems this year with bums or creepy people, but two years ago I got pretty shaken up by something that happened. Allow me, if you will, to tell a cautionary tale:

Two years prior the group I was with (~5 people) were walking back to the Radisson north of the convention center sometime in the evening--although it wasn't dark yet. We were walking and talking along. I was looking around a bit as we were walking and my gaze drifted past a man leaning against either a trash can or a newspaper box or something similar. Our eyes met for just a moment, and then as we walked by I see him stand up suddenly and start following us out of the corner of my eye.

I immediately rushed ahead a little and nudged the tallest and most fit guy in our group. He got the idea and we sped up a little and made a beeline for the hotel. He still followed.

We got into the hotel and as we waited for the elevators we saw him go up to the front desk first, and then up the stairs to the mezzanine area. He was standing on the balcony overlooking the lobby.

Needless to stay we stayed in the hotel for quite a while. Looking back on it we should have told the hotel staff, but at the time we didn't think of it for some reason. :/

Now when I'm walking in the city I tend to keep my eyes up and straight ahead and while walking through Baltimore I keep my badge a bit out of plain sight. Basically, if you look like a tourist, they're more likely to target you.

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Only one real significant story from this year for me. When we were walking back to our hotel from dinner, a guy on a corner a few blocks from the hotel asked for money to get something to eat. We politely said sorry and kept moving. No big deal.

We head back down to the convention center an hour or so later and the same guy is still there. We walk by and again, he asks us for money for food. Again, a polite reply given as we keep walking. We get in the pre-reg line, are in it for about 45-60 minutes and we're on our way back to the hotel again. Same guy, same story. My friend Sean has a pack of cookies, you know the kind, with six cookies in a cellophane wrapper. He offers the guy the cookies, saying "If you need something to eat, please take these." The guy looks at the cookies and just backs away a few steps shaking his head. We didn't see him the rest of the convention, but it struck me as kind of funny. This guy was saying he's hungry, etc. but won't take free food, only wants money, its the classic tale.

After we pass the guy, my friend looks toward us and just goes, "You know, for a homeless guy, he had nice headphones on." Which, he did..no idea what they were connected to, but he had been wearing headphones the entire time. It just makes me sick, knowing that people are out there imitating homeless people, when real homeless people actually need help, need money, need food, need shelter, etc.

I know, I should be used to it by now, I grew up in philly after all..but still it just sucks.

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Guest Lind L. Tailor

have otakon in a city that doesn't suck as much that will solve most of the problems :D

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have otakon in a city that doesn't suck as much that will solve most of the problems :D

Hey that's uncalled for, each city has its problems and taking the apathetic stance and just saying, "let's move," doesn't solve anything. Now apologize to Baltimore or it shall strike you with it's Old Bay Fist of Retribution.

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have otakon in a city that doesn't suck as much that will solve most of the problems :D

(Not a staff opinion, just that of an east coast semi-local.)

Any big, or even medium-sized, city has problems with panhandlers and homeless people. I've lived in a few and visited more than a few, take my word for it, Baltimore (especially in the Inner Harbor, which is tourist central) is not that bad if you exercise common sense, like traveling in groups and staying in well-lit areas. Trust me, if we moved to DC, you'd still want to do those things. Same if we were in Philadelphia, or NYC. (Not saying any of those places would be options to move to, just vaguely nearby.)

Baltimore likes Otakon a _lot_ and that counts for something too. :P

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The only problem I really had was on my way back to the Renaissance after Thursday night badge pick up. I had put on my Setsuna costume (Angel Sanctuary Setsuna) to go to badge pick up, and granted it draws a lot of attention between the wings and the plexiglass Nanatsusaya. Anyway, I was going to cut through the Gallery to get into the Renaissance and this "homeless" guy came up to me and was like "Mr. Angel, help me out Mr. Angel. I need some money, about 7 bucks or whatever you can spare." I just told him I left my money in my room because the pockets of my pants were too shallow and I was afraid my wallet would fall out. He just nodded and walked away, but if you actually looked at my pants you could see the bulge from my wallet. I'm a terrible liar. :P

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I guess all I can say is... welcome to Baltimore. lol

You get those kind of problems with pretty much any major city, though. Don't even get me started on Katsucon in DC...

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Every city in the country has its share of problems, it just seems that they crawl out of the woodwork because they see us out and about. I would be willing to bet money if you showed up any other time and weren't cosplaying more than half would not approach. Most bums I see when I go to center city Philadelphia don't even bother with us unless we're smoking outside. At that point all they do is ask for a cigarette. And as per usual I hand one over. Its a karma thing for me cause I never know when I'll be without one and I'll need a little help.

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Of course with a convention of over 26,000 people some problem may occur... but the major things that happened in the city seemed to have nothing to do with the convention thankfully and hopefully everyone was safe and sound once the weekend was done.

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Those 'Scammers' with the 'comics'...

They weren't Scammers.

They were members of a totally green commune.

They travel to festivals to spread the word.

Basically, the world is messed up, we can do something to change it, but most of us don't.

I got a magazine, and a bumper sticker...

For a box of pocky.

They weren't looking to scam anyone. Just to recover printing/travel costs.

DONATION. Not 'please give us money'...

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You get those kind of problems with pretty much any major city, though. Don't even get me started on Katsucon in DC...

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You get those kind of problems with pretty much any major city, though. Don't even get me started on Katsucon in DC...

katsucon is in one of the richest sections of washington, dc. what problems did you run into concerning the homeless and beggers? this year at the con there was nothing like that of baltimore beggers

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I had some guy follow me out of one of the alleys next to the Brookshire, he kept muttering and stayed right behind me all the way to the door and then just stood outside for a bit.... I took the street that came to the other side of the hotel and there were maintenance guys for the garage that would stand there and stare and laugh. =/ Didn't really like the location of the brookshire at all... too many really dark spaces... and dead rats... I've never come across so many in my entire history of Baltimore living. I counted five different ones on in the cross areas of the alleys, almost stepped on them a couple times..... -shudder- I was more worried about looking for rats than creepy people by Sunday :wacko:

And yeah... anytime any sort of convention happens panhandlers show up. AUSA had a bunch last year that I ran into... and it's in the nice side of Arlington.

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Me & my friends were at Edo Sushi on THURSDAY evening on the balcony & this old woman came up to our table & asked one of the guys to buy her sushi & then yelled at the maitredee(sp :) ) when she tried to ask her to leave.

Also when we were getting ready to leave we stopped at Dunkin Donuts & one followed us in & asked for food & money. When he was asked to leave he dropped his pants in front of the store & started fixing himself. But found other people to bug so we were able to leave & get to our car.

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Me & my friends were at Edo Sushi on THURSDAY evening on the balcony & this old woman came up to our table & asked one of the guys to buy her sushi & then yelled at the maitredee(sp :) ) when she tried to ask her to leave.

Also when we were getting ready to leave we stopped at Dunkin Donuts & one followed us in & asked for food & money. When he was asked to leave he dropped his pants in front of the store & started fixing himself. But found other people to bug so we were able to leave & get to our car.

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It was my first time at Otakon and i did run into that problem myself actually. I always listen to music when im walking somewhere so i never really pay attention that much to it and just keep walking really. As for for it not being safe after a certain time its not just with Otakon. If i feel or notice that someone is following me or just dont feel safe i always make it look like im talking on my phone. It stops some but incase it doesnt its much easier to call for help like another poster said.

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katsucon is in one of the richest sections of washington, dc. what problems did you run into concerning the homeless and beggers? this year at the con there was nothing like that of baltimore beggers

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My boyfriend and I were approached by a beggar not even a block from our hotel (we stayed at the Marriott Inner Harbor) when we went to the con on Friday morning. He was basically ranting about his life and so forth...he followed us for about a block or so and then my boyfriend told him he didn't have any money on him. Then the guy backed off and left us alone.

On Saturday night, our group headed back to the hotel and we sat on the benches outside the lobby...and there was this drunk older guy following a few girls. He was especially interested in this one girl....who didn't look older than sixteen. It didn't help that she was dressed rather scantily. She didn't seem to want anything to do with him, but since the guy was drunk, he never noticed. And then to my horror, she got up with her friends and walked through the hotel doors and he followed her in :) I don't know what happened after that, but that's pretty creepy.

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This year's con was actually pretty uneventful compared to what I'm used to. I had the same problems with people asking for change as everyone else, but I just ignored them and they left me alone.

Last year, however, is a totally different story.

I was riding the lightrail back to the airport for my flight home, tired, but satisfied with the weekend as a whole. My feet were KILLING me so I was glad when a kindly looking older man offered me the seat next to him. Me, being the overly trusting southerner that I am, thanked him and sat. We rode in silence for a while, with him making idle conversation every now and then. The warning bells had not gone off yet. Then he told me that I am pretty. I thanked him. Still no flashing red lights of danger. After that he must have correctly judged just how big of a pushover I am. He proceeded to ask pretty much every man in the train if he was my husband/brother. Twice. After he cleared that up, he started to really flirt. As in, make comments that even the most travelled sailor would blush at, and I guess to make his point as clear as possible, he demonstrated with his tongue. By this point I was in full panic mode. I searched for an empty seat anywhere and was lucky enough when a seat across the aisle emptied. Right next to some con goers also headed for the airport. Salvation! I quickly changed seats and tried to avoid eye contact with the man. When he realized I wasn't paying attention to him anymore, he started to fondle himself, which was considerably harder to ignore. After a few more stops and several attempts to get me to go home with him, he finally got off. In retrospect it's kind of funny because random riders made a point afterwards to ask if I was alright. I must have looked highly distressed.

So my advice is to ALWAYS join groups of other people from the con. Safety in numbers. You may not know them, but in my experience con-goers are generally a nice bunch. and and if you're like me and practically have "VICTIM" stamped across your forehead they offer a certain level of protection.

I know part of the problem is culture. I live in Alabama and while we have our share of sleezy old men here, they're fairly harmless. I learned that I cannot keep that mindset while in Baltimore.

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Ha, ha...my friends and I parked a few blocks away from the convention center on Thursday night, so we could pick up our pre-reg badges. No sooner had I locked my car doors when a guy yelled from across the street that he needed money. He had a friend with him, too. We just ignored them, but I was pretty worried about whether my car's windows would still be intact after we came back (they were, thank goodness).

That being said, the local merchants are usually pretty cool. We went to Caribou Coffee and the employees there were extraordinarily nice! It's a great place to head for your obligatory midday caffeine fix!

As for the convention itself, the only real problem I had was that I couldn't see the subtitles for many of the video screenings. It doesn't help that I'm only five feet tall, and that inevitably, a six-foot-ten-inch hulk always claims a seat in the row ahead of me, but if there's any way to raise the subtitles on the screen, that would be great!

My real complaint centered around some of the other con goers. Some of them were downright obnoxious when it came to con behavior. I went to the Tokyo on a Budget panel, and one woman managed to almost completely dominate the Q&A session with her personal questions about her upcoming travel plans to Japan. Let's limit the Q&As to one question each, shall we? Also, the guy who wasted time by asking if Japanese girls look like they do in anime needs to be punched. Seriously. The panel itself was great, but some people need to cease being attention-seeking prats. :P

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Also, the guy who wasted time by asking if Japanese girls look like they do in anime needs to be punched. Seriously. The panel itself was great, but some people need to cease being attention-seeking prats. :(

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I made a pretty big mistake that had the potential to be horrible, I think..

On Sunday morning, my friend and I were walking through the inner harbour to get to the convention center, and I stopped at a bench area to fix part of my costume and, being the dumb person I am, I was sitting there with my backpack next to me, wide open, and was just fiddling with my shoe.

Well next thing I know this homeless man came up, and I figured he was a little not-right-in-the-head, he came over and said "Hi" and went to shake my hand.

I didn't know what to do! So I let him grasp three of my fingers and gave a weak little handshake.

Our moms finally came over and were like "Come on we gotta keep walking!" and then I got scolded for

1) Who knows where that guys hands may have been? Not anywhere nice...

2) Leaving my bag open right next to me... especially if he went to shake my hand, he could have just grabbed my bag (with $250, my phone, camera, and iPod) and ran....

I'm still a little terrified that it could have skipped my mind to keep a more watchful eye on my bag... it's sad, because you don't want to think that there's no one in the city you can trust, and I'm sure there must be some genuinely nice homeless people, but I guess you can never be too careful...especially since my I'm just seventeen and my friend is only fifteen.

The only problem I had other than that was the drunk Oriole's fans Friday night! They were so weird. :(

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I guess if you don't live in a big city you just aren't used to some of these things and they can seem a little off. Living in NYC for a quiet a while now has calmed me from this but I can understand. I know a lot of people have voiced concerns about the Javits Center, too. But really there isn't that much to worry about. Though I will say there is a bench area on the way to the con across from the Radisson Lord Plaza that we tend to avoid after dark.

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My one moment where I dealt with a bum was when I a group of friends and I were talking back to the convention center after we had changed at our hotel for the Rave on Saturday. He claimed it was deaf, although her could hear us perfectly, and you could tell he was faking it. We politely told him we didn't have any money, and he proceeded to curse us out and call us "heartless." That's cold. :D

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Baltimore at Night *Shivers* I've lived here my entire life, it's not something you get used to.

Groups are your friends and safe havens, relatively.

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I guess I've just been lucky? I've never had a problem with the homeless people, even though I've worn lolita the last two years. I also tend not to be walking with anyone in particular, though I do make sure I'm within screaming distance of a group whenever I'm on the street (and carry mace/a rape whistle, lol). I guess it's just because I don't often carry a purse or gawk around at the city when I'm walking; it's something I learned in Chicago when I was there for a few months: if you act like you've got someplace to be at a specific time and know how to get there, they pretty much don't bother you. It feels a little heartless not to look them in the eye, but prevention's better than reaction any day.

FWIW, I always have my badge on during the Otakon weekend. From the instant I put it on until I'm on the light rail to the airport and headed home, the only time I take it off is when I'm changing into pajamas, and then it's right back on when I'm getting dressed in the morning. I use it to store my schedule/signature sheet and food vouchers; leaving without it is as unthinkable as leaving home without keys/wallet. It tends not to make very much of a difference at all in who approaches me, unless it's congoers seeing the little red flag on it and asking questions.

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I actually try to avoid the Inner Harbor during the summer (one because it's ungodly hot, and two because the panhandlers hang out mostly during the summer.) but during the fall/winter it isn't so bad. To add to the badge thing, if they see you walk out of the convention center, there isn't much else you can do. I was wearing a shirt from my college (which is in Baltimore) and I was still treated like a tourist from some of the food places there. One person asked me where I was from, and I pointed to my shirt, and he got really red and laughed it off.

I was in Lutherville yesterday and a homeless man asked me for money there. Every major city I've ever been in has that, it's not a big deal.

have otakon in a city that doesn't suck as much that will solve most of the problems :)

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Baltimore at Night *Shivers* I've lived here my entire life, it's not something you get used to.

Groups are your friends and safe havens, relatively.

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I certainly echo the sentiments concerning group travel, ignoring nonthreatening annoyances, and maintaining awareness of yourself and your surroundings. That being said, it's better to be safe than sorry by being prepared to deal with invasive scenarios. Thus, I recommend at least a basic understanding of unarmed and improvised tools self-defense.

I usually don't carry pepper spray on me, though I'd definitely recommend that as a viable self-defense tool (especially for the ladies). Some personal self-defense items I like, which are pretty incospicuous, are:

- a hojojutsu arresting/tying thin rope (about 6+ feet long, wrapped in a small bundle, or worn as a tasuki/kimono sleeve ties)

- homemade metsubishi blinding powder (various ground hot peppers, curries, etc., in a film canister)

- Kubotan keychain (made of wood or metal)

- portable tactical flashlight (strong enough light to temporarily blind an aggressive assailant)

Of course, everyday items (belts, loose change, bag straps, jackets, etc.) are usually on your person, and can be utilized as the need may arise.

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- a hojojutsu arresting/tying thin rope (about 6+ feet long, wrapped in a small bundle, or worn as a tasuki/kimono sleeve ties)

- homemade metsubishi blinding powder (various ground hot peppers, curries, etc., in a film canister)

- Kubotan keychain (made of wood or metal)

- portable tactical flashlight (strong enough light to temporarily blind an aggressive assailant)

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This year I was stopped by a man in a shirt and tie outside of the registration area saying that he was $6 short on his registration fee. I told him "sorry" and kept going. I probably should have reported him to a staffer.

As for traveling at night; I always carry a Fox40 whistle on my badge lanyard and a bright LED flashlight. Not the little button cell type, but an AA size unit. I would blow the whistle if I felt like I was in danger, because the follower sure doesn't want the attention. The 1 watt LED light in their eyes will make it harder to see too. Stick to streets with cars moving on them, and avoid cutting through the park-type areas.

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I certainly echo the sentiments concerning group travel, ignoring nonthreatening annoyances, and maintaining awareness of yourself and your surroundings. That being said, it's better to be safe than sorry by being prepared to deal with invasive scenarios. Thus, I recommend at least a basic understanding of unarmed and improvised tools self-defense.

I usually don't carry pepper spray on me, though I'd definitely recommend that as a viable self-defense tool (especially for the ladies). Some personal self-defense items I like, which are pretty incospicuous, are:

- a hojojutsu arresting/tying thin rope (about 6+ feet long, wrapped in a small bundle, or worn as a tasuki/kimono sleeve ties)

- homemade metsubishi blinding powder (various ground hot peppers, curries, etc., in a film canister)

- Kubotan keychain (made of wood or metal)

- portable tactical flashlight (strong enough light to temporarily blind an aggressive assailant)

Of course, everyday items (belts, loose change, bag straps, jackets, etc.) are usually on your person, and can be utilized as the need may arise.

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I certainly echo the sentiments concerning group travel, ignoring nonthreatening annoyances, and maintaining awareness of yourself and your surroundings. That being said, it's better to be safe than sorry by being prepared to deal with invasive scenarios. Thus, I recommend at least a basic understanding of unarmed and improvised tools self-defense.

I usually don't carry pepper spray on me, though I'd definitely recommend that as a viable self-defense tool (especially for the ladies). Some personal self-defense items I like, which are pretty incospicuous, are:

- a hojojutsu arresting/tying thin rope (about 6+ feet long, wrapped in a small bundle, or worn as a tasuki/kimono sleeve ties)

- homemade metsubishi blinding powder (various ground hot peppers, curries, etc., in a film canister)

- Kubotan keychain (made of wood or metal)

- portable tactical flashlight (strong enough light to temporarily blind an aggressive assailant)

Of course, everyday items (belts, loose change, bag straps, jackets, etc.) are usually on your person, and can be utilized as the need may arise.

You could possibly be stopped by a policeman for a kubotan, and I though Baltimore didn't allow pepper spray(I am probably wrong on that). However, you wouldn't get stopped for a pair of sturdy Hashi. (Bamboo is very strong) If you were, they could be easily explained away. That aside, it is preferable to avoid the situation in the first place. A street fight never ends well for either party.

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Guys, we all know it's important to be safe; however, keep in mind that old proverb: "The best offense is a good defense."

Attempting to use a weapon (be it a defensive weapon such as pepper spray, or a cosplay prop, or those martial arts techniques you saw in that one Jackie Chan movie, the one with the snowmobiles) without proper training or knowledge can cause an already dangerous and frightening situation to become even more confusing and volatile. Pepper and other sprays, especially, are notorious for causing more harm to the user than to the assailant, when they're used for the first time in a crisis.

Your best bet late at night, or any time, is to travel in a group. If this is impossible, call a cab. If you're out by yourself and you feel threatened, stay alert and calm. Head for bright lights and crowded areas (such as the BCC or a hotel lobby). Use your common sense, and don't provoke your attacker. Don't talk on your phone while walking, but keep it handy, and call 911 if you need assistance.

If you're concerned about your safety while in Baltimore, consider enrolling yourself in a simple Tae Kwon Do or Karate class; even Tai Ch'i, when sped up, is a powerful self-defense form. The confidence you gain from these classes - not the techniques themselves - will help you handle stressful situations safely.

edit: And on that note, since I think we've pretty well covered staying safe and being safe at-con and in Baltimore in general, I'm going to lock the thread. :)

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