Monday, December 21, 2009

DC Snowball Fight - Really?

With almost 2 feet of snow in DC by Saturday morning, I had plenty of time to sit around at home in my PJs and surf the internet, including Twitter. Apparently, like many others (given the comments on various sites), I got caught up in reading about the snowball fight that took place Saturday afternoon at 14th and U Sts. NW. Seems like within minutes of this incident taking place, there was outrage all over the internet about a DC detective brandishing a gun after he and his vehicle were pelted with snowballs. There is just so much wrong with this story that I don't even know where to begin. What I won't do here, as many others have done, is focus on whether or not the detective was wrong for getting pissed and brandishing his weapon. What I take issue with is this ridiculous so-called snowball fight. The social scientist in me says that this was a crazy combination of race, class, and geography (gentrification, residential segregation, use of urban space) issues. But as a DC resident and someone who has always lived in a major metropolitan city, I find this to be the dumbest DC story of 2009, even dumber and more unbelievable than the Salahi drama. Why would grown people think that it makes sense to have a snowball fight at a major intersection in the middle of a blizzard??? Apparently this was organized via Twitter. I would love to know whose bright idea this was. From some accounts there were close to 200 people engaged in this fight. I have no problem with this being someone's idea of fun, but why would this not be done in an appropriate space like a park (lots of them in DC) or the National Mall even? The safety concerns are many, especially during a blizzard. Most of the stories I've read extolled the kindness of the participants for helping drivers who got stuck in the snow. Oh ok, forget the fact that flying snowballs could impair those driving in all that snow. And what about pedestrians uninterested in participating? Most people probably had sense enough to stay home if they didn't have to go out, but there were many others who had no choice. Some people actually had to work and there are many businesses at that intersection, not to mention bus stops, and road crews trying to clear the streets. I mean really, this just sounds like the behavior of a bunch of college students. The intersection of 14th and U is not the QUAD people! What I found to be a common thread in the news coverage is how this was all "good-natured fun." One guy in the Post was even quoted as saying, "I feel that this is just an example of people asserting our basic right to have fun, and the police not being okay with that." Dude, are you serious? I'm amazed at the sense of entitlement in that statement. It's interesting how I'm constantly reading neighborhood blogs where people complain about the "rowdy" kids in Chinatown and applaud the efforts of the police to round them up. I'm sure many of these kids would say they are having good-natured fun. But the difference is that these are actual KIDS. And many of them quite possibly live in Southeast or Northeast where there are no movie theaters, sit-down restaurants, major retail clothing stores, etc. I bet if these kids organized a snowball fight at 7th and H St. NW there would be no complaints about a cop brandishing or even pointing a gun at them. Then there's the issue of the detective's Hummer. For some reason, people felt anyone in a Hummer deserved to be pelted with snowballs. Huh? Sorry, but I think there are better ways to protest your views. And how about taking that behavior to an affluent neighborhood in the 'burbs where you're likely to find many more Hummers and other SUVs? So, given that he was being targeted and then continued to be pelted once out of his vehicle, the detective takes out his gun. To be honest, I'm surprised these people weren't met with violent behavior from others besides the cop. Have people forgotten that this is a city with a very high rate of gun violence? Maybe so, given the level of gentrification in the U Street corridor. A snowball fight would not have even happened at this intersection 15 or even 10 years ago. Yes, I enjoy some of the outcomes of gentrification like the farmer's market, restaurants, and bars. But a snowball fight? No. I think DC police should have dispersed a crowd of this magnitude engaging in behavior that was just plain unsafe and stupid. And why a snowball fight? Do yuppies in DC have that much pent up aggression that they haven't released by posting angry comments to Washington Post articles?

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Shaw Girl said...

I was at the snowball fight and while it may not have been the brightest idea to have it at an intersection, it was really just fun. There were people of all races and there were just as many neighborhood kids as yuppies. And there were some cars going through but the snowballers stopped the "fight" when cars passed. They did stand behind some cars when they were at the light but there was never any attempts to interfere with traffic. It was just fun until Baylor pulled out his gun. My dad is a cop and I generally have a strong respect for cops but that has eroded over the years I've lived in DC. Watching this guy pull out a gun and wave it (yes, he was waving it around for a few seconds) scared the shit out of me. He didn't identify himself as a cop and he was shouting out threatening remarks. I walk by uniformed cops on the street corner almost every day going to and from the metro and I cannot tell you how many times they make VERY vulgar comments towards me and other women that are sexual harassment. To see this behavior day in and day out and then watch Baylor act as if he's above the law was the last straw for me.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading about this fight and while I'm no fan of DC cops, this situation seems blown way out of proportion. I think its crazy that just because some people think its fun to throw snowballs, they think other people would. Why not go to a park? I certainly would not want to be hit with one while going to work that day (me or my car) and I had to work! I just wanted to say, go do something constructive and get off the street.

Roxanne said...

Hi CG! I am enjoying your blogs much however on this snowball fight, I think you gotta lighten up here. Given the blizzard I imagine that the number of people and vehicles that were out for work related business was probably minimal. I'm also guessing the only reason for the fight in the middle of a normally high traffic area was exactly that--not too much going on. What better time to do something unusual, have a great time with it and meet some new people? Sounded fun. Hope this doesn't upset you but I thought it worth mentioning.