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Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight, in Duke Ellington’s neighborhood at that

Dec 21, 2009 Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight, in Duke Ellington’s neighborhood at that

This past Saturday morning around 10:30, the snow got so heavy that I made a U-turn back to my home in the Washington, D.C., suburbs when visibility got too difficult through my ice-covered windshield wipers and rear window that kept getting covered despite my defroster, with many side streets still unplowed. In the meantime, a large snowball fight was arranged through social media in Duke Ellington’s neighborhood, at Fourteenth & U Streets, Northwest, in Washington, around twenty blocks north of the White House.

I knew nothing about this snowball fight until it was long over. A District of Columbia detective got out of sorts so much from being hit by snowballs that he drew his gun, and he soon thereafter admitted to it.

Granted, snowballs should not be aimed at those not part of a snowball fight. At the same time, a police officer should not pull his or her gun for nothing more than what happened in this video of the incident.

This video goes beyond a police officer pulling his gun over snowballs, to show him pushing a man onto the sidewalk, to someone(s) exercising First Amendment rights by shouting "F*ck you, pig" after the officer drew his gun, to show solidarity among many of the civilians when they started chanting "Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight" and "Let him go" after a man was detained, and to show more police arriving after the gun-pulling detective and handling the situation with cooler heads to include being okay with the people returning to their snowball fight. The detective was so angry that he would have been wisest to have called other police to help, rather than to have taken any of the matter into his own hands. 

Thanks to District of Columbia police chief Kathy Lanier for swiftly and clearly discrediting detective Michael Baylor for having drawn his gun.

ADDENDUM I: Although my blog does not tend towards safety talk ready for a public school auditorium, I do want to caution about throwing snowballs at cars, although I am not clear how much the above-discussed merrymakers were hitting cars, whether intentionally or not. In my elementary school days, my friend and I went to a main road to throw snowballs, making them big and slushy, and aiming ahead of the windshield to get a good impact. My first throw was a bullseye, but then the driver started driving after me and my friend; we were on our home turf and got away quickly through backyards, lying low, and zigzags before reconvening at his house, in the days before cellphones. I realized as I escaped, though, that the driver could have gotten into a collision from my snowball.

ADDENDUM II: Duke Ellington grew up in the general vicinity of this snowball fight. As I YouTubed for an Ellington video, some Cat Anderson videos came up, too. Cat Anderson used to play in Ellington bands, and had an amazing talent for playing stratospherically high trumpet notes without showing fatigue, two things that impress me all the more from my several years of playing the trumpet. Cat blew me away the first time I heard him — and saw him — live in 1978, which was three years before he left his body.

ADDENDUM III: To bring the musical tangent further, Cat Anderson produced a short book on how to reach high notes on the trumpet, available free here. One of his students is selling a somewhat larger book claiming to convey the method in a more learnable format.

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