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Now we all have to think twice about saying no when a man approaches us and we’re not interested. Great.

Mary “Unique” Spears was shot and killed by a 38-year-old after leaving the funeral of another family member on Detroit’s east side. The reason she died? Simply because she didn’t want to give the man her number.

MUST READ: #NotJustHello Hashtag Explores The Reality Of Street Harassment


As the 27-year-old mother of three was leaving a celebration of her deceased family member’s life, a man approached her and said,  “Can I get your name, your number,” Spears’ relative said that she responded what many of us have said when confronted by men on the streets (whether true or false):  “I have a man I can’t talk to you.” The man continued to harass Spears and her family says he grabbed her, then hit her. When Spears’ fiancé confronted the man, they began to fight. That’s when the street harasser pulled out a gun and started shooting.

Spear’ relative  told a local news station that she tried to run and the attacker shot her two times in her head. He fired a few more shots through the crowd who was outside watching the whole horrific scene. Spears’ fiancé was shot and so were four of her family members. Mary died on the scene.

Detroit police say they quickly arrested the suspect and he’s now behind bars, but the Spears family is still living in fear. “I’m scared to walk outside just because of that, and I’m scared that if I reject guys, he gonna shoot me now,” a relative told the local news.

Street harassment is a real issue that many women have to deal with everyday. I often have anxiety on the streets of New York City when I’m catcalled and try my best to ignore. After my refusal or attempt to ignoring them, I’ve heard racial slurs thrown at me, of course the word b*tch was spit at me and there’s the ever-popular and more descriptive, “fat b*tch.” It never gets easier to handle how men handle our rejection. This killing of Mary Spears is just one reported piece of proof that women have to be conditioned to be cautious:

Never leave your drink unattended at a club.

Never accept a drink from a stranger.

Don’t dress too revealing.

Don’t go anywhere alone.


These are things many of us young women have all been warned and taught about from our parents, you know, the same way that young Black men are now being cautioned to think twice before wearing hoodies in the night. It’s ridiculous.  When it comes to women and street harassment, these sad pieces of advice spoken for us to use to “protect ourselves” put the fault on women, instead of holding men accountable. How about when we raise men up, we tell them not to drug women or take advantage of their vulnerability? How about we teach young men to treasure us like we’re princesses and that way it’s a whole lot more organic for us to grow up as queens and in turn continue to be treated as such. That shouldn’t bee too much to ask.

Meanwhile, Mary’s killer is expected to be arraigned on murder charges Tuesday.

If you’d like to help the family of Mary Spears, you can donate under her name at: Swanson Funeral Home, 806 East Grand Blvd. Detroit, Michigan 48207, (313) 923-1122. Or you can donate online at:


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Shot Down: Mother Of Three Killed Because She Said No To A Man’s Advances  was originally published on