Correction to This Article
A July 18 Metro article gave an incorrect address for the D.C. block on which a Hummer was vandalized. The vehicle was smashed in the 4300 block of Brandywine Street NW, not the 3400 block.

Hummer Owner Gets Angry Message

Gareth Groves's Hummer was parked on his street in American University Park for five days before two masked men were seen taking bats to it.
Gareth Groves's Hummer was parked on his street in American University Park for five days before two masked men were seen taking bats to it. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On a narrow, leafy street in Northwest Washington, where Prius hybrid cars and Volvos are the norm, one man bought a flashy gray Hummer that was too massive to fit in his garage.

So he parked the seven-foot-tall behemoth on the street in front of his house and smiled politely when his eco-friendly neighbors looked on in disapproval at his "dream car."

It lasted five days on the street before two masked men took a bat to every window, a knife to each 38-inch tire and scratched into the body: "FOR THE ENVIRON."

"The thought of somebody vandalizing it never crossed my mind," said Gareth Groves, 32, who lives with his mother in a three-story home in the 4300 block of Brandywine Street NW in American University Park. "I've kind of been in shock."

Now, as Groves ponders what to do with the remains of his $38,000 SUV, he has been the target of a number of people who have driven by the crime scene in his upscale neighborhood and glared at him in smug satisfaction.

"I'd say one in five people who come by have that 'you-got-what-you-deserve' look," said his friend Andy Sexton, 27, who is visiting from Arkansas and has been helping Groves deal with fallout from the crime.

Neighbor Lucille Liem, 37, who owns a Prius hybrid, said that a common sentiment in the neighborhood is that large vehicles are impractical and a strain on the Earth -- and Hummers in particular are a symbol of consumer excess.

"The neighborhood in general is very concerned with the environment," said Liem, whose Prius gets about 48 miles a gallon compared with the Hummer's 14 miles a gallon. "It's more liberal leaning. It's ridiculous to be driving a Hummer."

Liem added quickly that she does not condone violence.

Another neighbor, Lani Fremaux, 58, said she bought a T-shirt months ago with a picture of a Hummer and above it the word "Bummer." She wore the shirt proudly but said she is so upset with recent events on her street that she might retire it.

"They've got everything at their disposal in this city to make a statement in a legal way," Fremaux said of the bat-wielding men who struck out at the Hummer. "I consider this a hate crime."

Police said they see small acts of vandalism in the area from time to time, but they have not seen anything so severe, or with such a clear political message, in recent years.

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