Additional text at the video page:
Around 2.30PM on Saturday, December 19, during a historic snowstorm, residents at the intersection of 14th and U Streets NW started throwing snowballs at passing Hummers.There is a difference between a snowball fight and throwing snowballs at moving vehicles. In a snowball fight — like this cool one in Madison a couple weeks ago — you have voluntary participants playing at fighting with each other. Throwing snowballs at cars, on the other had, is surprising people who happen upon the scene and it's distracting them — and doing so at a time when it is particularly difficult to drive. Drivers do not know the extent of the interference when it begins, and they can be frightened or easily stimulated into braking or accelerating — when there is snow and ice and when pedestrians are nearby. Whether the vehicles are Hummers or not makes no difference. Were they protesting gas guzzling? That might seem cute or righteous or harmless, but it might not be. The drivers don't know.
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."Brandished" is a heavy word and "brandished... at" connotes that he pointed the gun at people, which he did not.
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!"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.
IN THE COMMENTS: Chef Mojo says "This was no innocent snowball fight" and links here, to a post at futureMAGINING, written at 1:39, about 40 minutes before Baylor arrived, called "Announcing The DC Snowpocalypse Guerilla Snowball Fight 2009!"
Where? 14th & U st. NWA fun snowball fight would be sited in a park of some kind, not in the middle of the street.
What? Massive guerilla snowball fight in the middle of the street.
When? Saturday, December 19th, 2009 @ 2 PM.If you try to go to that twitter page now, it says "Sorry, the profile you were trying to view has been suspended due to strange activity."
We will also be tweeting details at twitter.com/futuremagining.
The only way to play it safe is to bring a posse. This may be complete anarchy.
Remember, if you’re throwing a snowball- you’re game.Now, that could be a set-up for fun, like the Madison snowball fight, but not in a busy city street. The first few comments say that the fight belongs in a park, and the "admin" responds: "The reason we’re calling it a 'guerilla snowball fight' is because it’s in the middle of the street." If someone called the police, they were right to respond.
Now, futureMAGINING has a statement up about the incident, written by Yousef Ali:
The “detective” who started waving his gun around inappropriately without even identifying himself as an officer of the law needs to be reprimanded. To those who were there with us at the snowball fight, the difference of knowing that the person waving a gun is a hot-headed law enforcement agent who is unlikely to shoot outside of strict protocol versus a random thug with a penchant for violence is HUGE. When that gun was drawn, many feared for their lives and those of their friends.Watching the video, I wondered why so many people were laughing and hanging around... and taunting the man. That's not how I'd behave if I thought I might be near a "random thug" with a gun in his hand. I'd say their behavior shows they knew he was a cop attempting to follow whatever the protocol is when one man faces a mob. Unfortunately, the video does not show the entire confrontation.