Most people would bring gloves, boots and their best winter coat to a snowball fight. One cop brought a gun.
The Washington City Paper‘s City Desk blog has the down-low:
According to an eyewitness, aÂ 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.
Is all fair in love and (snowball) war?
Clearly, this is a situation that was escalated due to the, shall we say, climate. Though many folks online have been keen to attack the cop, it’s easy to forget how nerve-wracking it can be when you’re driving through a blizzard. And factor in the fact that D.C. is one of the major metropolitan areas least prepared to handle snow, and almost anything will make you jump.
However, the detective did go overboard in his reaction to his car coming under snowball fire. Road rage is something that inconveniences so many drivers, but the majority of people who are angered by traffic, weather or being pelted with extra ammunition from a snowball fight wouldn’t react by waving a gun at a crowd. Considering the man in question was a police officer (it is still unclear if he was undercover or simply off duty), he should have known better.
As for the crowd reacting the way it did, these are one of the consequences organizers of flash mobs may have to prepare for in their “worst case scenario” playbooks. It’s always difficult to try and organize a free, all-inclusive event such as a snowball fight that is guaranteed to bring in several hundred people because one has to consider how people will react when they’re surrounded by hundreds of people throwing snowballs. As the events in D.C. have shown, most of the time people are cordial towards complete strangers (even helping get a marked-cop car out of the snow). But every once in a while, someone makes a mistake such as throwing snowballs at the wrong car, and unfortunately, the organizers of such events end up paying the consequences. Hopefully, this case will, if anything, show the overreactions of local officials when community members attempt to put on their own spur-of-the-moment event.
Here’s a YouTube video of a few cops and snowball fighters talking about the incident: