Snowball fight that led officer to draw gun: Everyone was wrong
The snowballs. The crowd. The gun.
What happened at the intersection of 14th and U streets Saturday afternoon wasn't just about a snowball fight and a road-raging cop. It was a complicated passion play about the District, its neighborhoods and the chasm that sometimes gapes wide between its people. In this scenario, no one was right.
It began with a massive, flash-mob snowball fight fueled by Tweets, Facebook and word-of-mouth on that snowy day. The digital natives had a joyous rumpus that afternoon, giddy from falling snow and childhood memories .
Really, is there anything better than a good snowball fight when the snow plentiful and it's Saturday?
Online, they agreed to meet at 14th and U, the same place revelers swarmed on election night, on inauguration night and on many nights of Marvin's chicken and waffles or Gibson's Sazeracs or a late-night half-smokes at Ben's.
"This intersection is where we gather, where we celebrate, where we are a community," said Lacy MacAuley, 31, who brought a sign that said "No War . . . But Snowball War" to the blizzard battle.
"It was all kinds of people. White, black, Hispanic, young, old," said Will Goins, 52, who watched it all unfold from his familiar haunt near the corner McDonald's. "They went across the street at each other like gladiators. Looked like fun."
They played Capture the Flag and pushed out the cars that got stuck in the snow, including a passing police cruiser.
Lots of folks said the crowd of about 200 began pelting cars as they slowly maneuvered through the snowy streets.
It was a treacherous drive. I was right there at that intersection about an hour earlier, white-knuckling it the whole way while I drove our babysitter home. A few snowballs at my windshield would've seriously sucked.
When Detective Mike Baylor's maroon Humvee crunched the snow with its massive all-terrain tires, it was a tantalizing mark.
Splat! Lots of splat. So much splat that Baylor got of the car and drew his gun. And that was a really bad thing to do.