Group to 'take back the alley' where assault occurred

Ashland resident Mary O'Neal is tired of shuddering every time she walks past an alley off East Main Street where a woman was sexually assaulted last month — so on Saturday she plans to "take back the alley."

The filmmaker has organized a "reclaiming event" to bring awareness to a recent string of sexual assaults in Ashland.

Inspired by a "Take Back the Night" rally that drew more than 100 people last month, O'Neal organized Saturday's event as a response to the broad-daylight attack in the alley.

"I do walk that path every other day and it's now become a question of safety," she said. "I just thought, wouldn't it be nice to reclaim that alley?"

The event will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the alley, located behind the restaurant Cucina Biazzi at 568 E. Main St.

A prayer will be said for the victim of the alley attack, who told police a stranger raped her.

"I really want to honor the victim," O'Neal said. "I don't want to make this event a huge party. I just want to acknowledge that this took place here."

Next, community members will be invited to discuss the sexual assaults and the community's response to them, she said. People are invited to bring harmonicas, guitars and candles.

O'Neal and fellow filmmaker, Mark Butterfield, plan to use footage from the event in a short film they are making about the city's response to the sexual assaults. They hope to enter the film in the 2010 Ashland Independent Film Festival.

"Its kind of our way to give back to the community," O'Neal said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

Share This Story