As you might have heard (or lived through) DC got a bit of snow on the weekend. A record-setting amount of snow actually, an amazing 20 inches in 24 hours, near shutting the city down. Lots of funny and strange things seem to happen at times like this, and perhaps the strangest story to come out of what was dubbed snowpocalypse09 was a huge public snowball fight on the corner of 14th and Ust NW, in the heard of the U St shopping and dining district, at 2pm on Saturday. At some point during the ruckus, which had about 200 participants, some snowball enthusiasts decided to target passing cars, and in particular a massive Hummer. I can understand their desire, there's no car that more makes me want to participate in acts of civil disobedience than the Hummer, a converted troop carrier for god's sake. Anyway this particular Hummer contained an undercover police office, who got out of his vehicle brandishing his gun. At people bearing snowballs. Madness. It was all captured on camera thankfully and the detective is now “confined to desk duties” while the incident is being investigated.
This was all odd enough, but what's really revealing is what happened next. Here's how the local news reported it:
A lively snowball fight on D.C. streets took a dark turn Saturday when anti-war protesters dressed in anarchist garb showed up, and a D.C. police officer pulled his weapon out of his holster.
But things started to turn for the worse when the crowd -- some carrying anti-war signs and dressed all in black with masks -- began to pelt passing cars. A plain clothes D.C. police detective emerged from a Hummer -- it's unclear whether it was his personal vehicle or an unmarked police vehicle -- after it was struck. The detective began yelling at the gathered crowd. At one point, he pulled back his jacket, exposing his service weapon -- it's unclear if he did this intentionally. That's when things took a darker turn.
So they blamed a group “dressed like anarchists” for causing the problems, and indicated that the undercover detective only showed his weapon rather than brandished it, and that the only gun drawn was by a policeman who arrived later. Okay, a couple of things here. Firstly, the “dressed like anarchists” bit. By this we can only assume they're referring to people wearing balaclava's and scarfs around their faces. But aside from the seemingly omni-present anarchists (and bank robbers) who wears this sort of get-up? You got it – people in cold places! Like places where it's snowing like crazy. Like DC on Saturday.
Secondly, re the gun, see the video above. There's enough evidence online that there's no excuse for a professional news operation, reporting hours after the event, to get this wrong.
So besides being an example of a police officer completely overstepping the bounds of their authority it's also an example of the media completely overstepping their bounds of reporting, adding their own spin while blatantly mis-representing the facts, and doing so on the side of authority. This happens all the time of course, and this particular incident may not be the most important example in the world, but it is illustrating nonetheless. Protests in particular always get this treatment by a new media which is part of the status quo being protested. Not that this was even a protest, but the media were all too keen to fit it into their knee-jerk protest narrative of rowdy kids and put-upon police.
On a more personal note I had a productive snow weekend. Firstly K and I made a film with our flatmate D entitled Kiev: City of Love. It's a beauty I think you'll agree, we're very proud of it (My second film ever!).
What do you think, time to get a pilot to the networks?
Then our visiting mate Scott and I made this snow Loch Ness Monster which is honestly the best snow sculpture I've seen since the dump. A weekend well-spent!