Jason Cherkis at Washington City Paper:
According to an eyewitness, a D.C. Police detective (pictured above w/ gun) went nuts after kids pelted his Hummer with snowballs at 14th and U Streets NW this afternoon. The veteran detective got out of his car and eventually grabbed for his gun, displaying it to the crowd. He did not immediately identify himself as a police officer. He calmed down once his fellow uniformed cop arrived. Apparently, someone called 911 to report a man with gun. The snowball fight had been well hyped on Twitter. The news of the incident first broke there. We caught up with an eyewitness moments ago.
Nick Gillespie at Reason:
As Jesse Walker noted earlier today, an armed confrontation between snowball-throwing DC residents and police took place during the day’s historic snowfall.
Around 2.30PM on Saturday, December 19, residents at the intersection of 14th and U Streets NW started throwing snowballs at passing Hummers.
One of the cars pelted was driven by a plainclothes police officer identified only as Det. Baylor. Baylor got out of his car and brandished his gun at the crowd.
Reason.tv’s Dan Hayes was on the scene, capturing the tense confrontation between police and citizens who chanted “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!”
Approximately 5 minutes; harsh language throughout.
This reminds me of the 1960s era demonstrations where it seemed like a good idea to taunt the police instead of showing them respect. Baylor got out of his car, apparently, to try to deal with disorder that he couldn’t have known the precise nature of. Alone, facing a confusing crowd, he got his gun in his hand.
Why couldn’t people have spoken with him in a civil way and conveyed the assurance that there was no problem requiring police attention? Did they consider that there might be people elsewhere in the city, during the snow emergency, who actually would have benefited from help from a police officer who got delayed by unruly adults who thought snow suspended the rules and made it okay to throw objects at moving cars?
The quoted chant is “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!” and that sounds funny and fun-loving, but it got me thinking of the encounters with police that we saw in the 1960s when it took next to nothing to provoke shouts of “police brutality” and “pig.” And in fact, if you watched the whole video, you heard the shout “Fuck you, pig.”
I’m siding with the cop.
Foster Kamer at Gawker:
Well, as it turns out, Washington DC residents know exactly how much of a joke 911 is in their own town, after a cop. Pulled a gun. On kids. Throwing snowballs. Yeah, and they’re reading this cop the riot act.
Millions of D.C.’s hippest Twitterers coordinated a massive cross-street snowball fight at the major intersection of U & 14th streets NW today, to regale in the fruits of God’s most terrifying thundersnowstorm from Hell. A victory for spontaneous social network organizing! Or not? Because at some point during this apocalyptic spectacle, a frustrated undercover cop was trying to navigate his car down the barely plowed U Street, only to reach the masses of unhinged Twitter Snowballers. This didn’t make his drive any easier. And then a few of them pegged his car with snowballs, leading to the worst massacre in human history.
This annoyed the dickens out of him, so he got out of his car, yelled, and briefly took out his gun to scare the little fucks. The crowd soon began chanting “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight,” knowing full well that this crisp bit of soft irony would make for the perfect viral tweet, and maybe an amusing Tumblr, which usually leads to a book deal — and even more Tumblrs!
Here’s a video of a uniformed cop mediating the dispute between the undercover gun cop and some terrified Twitterers. It was clearly the most outrageous abuse of police power against the helpless urban poor since… well, whatever probably happened in Anacostia 15 seconds before this. Seventeen, eighteen murders? Unimportant! This angry cop took out his gun next to some snowballers who had just pummeled his car in the middle of the major street, you guys! Where are their civil rights? WHERE ARE THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS? 9/11 is a joke.
UPDATE: Erik Wemple at Washington City Paper
UPDATE: Jerry Bembry at The Root
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Bembry
UPDATE #2: More Coates