9.20.2005


I am going to have to breeze over this posting.... it may wander around a bit as it was written late last night after a few glasses of red wine with an old friend

TONIGHT
tonight I attended a candlelight vigil in my neighborhood of Mount Pleasant
it was a gathering to mourn the death of an individual, Greg Snipe
and
it was a gathering to stand together as a community and wonder how we could let this happen to us
one of our neighors
right in front of one of our houses
a person just like you
yes, a person just like me

he was just walking his dog
just like I walk my dogs?

no one knows what really happened in the moments leading up to the shooting other than god, greg, and the person or persons who held the gun to Greg's face

this is a tradgedy for greg, greg's family and friends, and to a community that wants to feel safe in their own neighborhood

where does this leave us?

do we become prisoners in our homes?
do we rationalize and discuss statistics?

a bullet to the face causing a fatal injury every two years is not a bad average

well
that is once too often a year for me

like the handling of the flood in New Orleans
our police and our guiding officials respond after the fact
rather than seeing things coming beforehand

finding the individuals who caused this crime is one thing
preventing the next crime is another
each has its weight
each has its importance
each needs to be done

the seasons are changing
it is getting darker sooner
what are the precautions?
how late is late as the dark arrives earlier?

how late is it safe for my wife to go running
how late is it safe for me to walk my dogs
can I walk to the neighborhood bar
is it safe for me to walk to Adams Morgan and back
does my urban walk keep me safe...
do I need to walk talking on my cell phone like so many people seem to do
(like it creates an electronic force field keeping all criminals at bay)
I already travel with just an ID and my money when I am not on my bike... what else should I do?
kiss my family good by and make sure my will is up to date every time I leave the house

things to think about

gregory snipe someone I do not know/someone I will never know died at the hands of another
for what I would say is no reason at all
story on nbc4.com/ msnbc.com
a person should feel safe to walk their dog at 11PM on a saturday night
there are some freedoms that should be a given

the vigil...
walked past my old place on Lamont Street where I lived with my family pre-Dean... pre-Grant our first place together
pre-marriage
in so many ways... pre-adulthood
caught some old friends walking their dog... asked if they were headed to the vigil... we put Maggie the dog away and we headed up the block together
just me, my old neighbor john, and his grade school age daughter kara
down Lamont across Mount Pleasant Street to the Mount Pleasant Library
as we started getting closer we could see a long line of people walking with candles in their hands
passerbys watched with question in their eyes

we had missed the "town meeting" by the time we arrived at the library
I got what turned out to be the very last candle
yes... the very last candle
I offered to share with Kara
took part in the procession with candle in hand along side kara and her father john
John and I lived as neighbors for more than five years
five years of chance meetings and many intentional that built a solid friendship
it was good to share this experience with an old friend
our meetings are too far between as we are no longer immediate neighbors
we walked together
I held the candle as Kara could not walk with the candle without blowing it out
the people behind us were feeling lost from the pack

there was some silence
there was some catching up
along with Kara we all tried to piece together what had happened with Gregory Snipe on this fateful night just days ago
as we passed the 7-11 we turned down a side street
there was a pause as people read the REWARD sign that hung in the doorway of his old apartment building
I know people that live in this building
this was the first chance for me to put a face with the name
the face that was blown away at point blank range just last saturday night
sounds like the movies
but this is not the movies... this is real live... this is my neighborhood

we also paused on the steps to absorb the image on the REWARD sign
25,000 Dollar Reward.
it was like an open casket funeral
a few more turns we are on Irving street
many familiar faces
some who I knew
many who I had never seen before
some I had seen before but never heard their voices before
all with candles in hand
some walking with their dogs along side of them
we walk down the hill with the National Cathedral within view in the distance
lights and cameras are everywhere
satelitte and microwave trucks and local reporters
I question if everything should be documented... then agree to myself that this story should be told

the parade lumps around the spot where the murder occured
people on this block of Irving are witnessing the event from their porches
somewhat how they had witnessed the senseless death just days prior

we listened some emotional speakers
although the megaphone was pretty much DC's finest and did not extend the distance of the crowd
perhaps silence was more appropriate than some sort of political rhetoric
we all joined in silence
some prayed
some reflected
we all remained silent as we stood together in the middle of a road that usually hosts some fast moving traffic

after the speakers everyone drops their candles in a pile along side a makeshift memorial of flowers that rest where Greg Shipe was killed
then we move along on our way
police officers and politicians shake my hands and thank me for showing up as I depart
I shake their hands... look them in the eye... nod and move along my way
wondering if they are actually going to do anything to prevent these things from happening again

I have tried to be proactive...
although I am not a whistle blower I have made some calls
there was a time not long ago I was coming down the lamont street
that same street where I lived for over 5 years
down two blocks were a few people that seemed suspicious
they were moving my way
I altered my pace slightly to try and make the corner and the turn before them
in the distance I hear a hello... in a question tone... "hey.... like wait up"
with no intention of waiting up I made the turn as they picked up the pace
was able to make it to the more trafficked corner of Park and 18th
a car rolled by
they went straight while I turned again
they were gone
I used my cell and called 911
calling in the suspicious three men I avoiding encountering
asked for an officer in the Mount Pleasant area
more questions
more questions
all these questions and no action
by this time I was in the clear
but others
the officer on the other end was asking questions
do I need a bullet in my head for the police to respond?

should we go with our gut
even if our gut reaction is not PC?

still on the phone I tried to advise an officer in the area to do a drive by
still more questions
I was getting no where
I was home
what does it take for them to respond
after the fact is always too late

a few other times I have called to police to ask about police cruisers cruising way too fast without lights or sirens
they always feed me some line
the long and the short of it....
when someone gets run over
it makes no different who ran them over
cop or civilian
everyone needs to drive in control

not Mount Pleasant Michigan
a place I have never been by some people from Michigan
I have never been to Michigan
why are they making fun of me for living in a place I have never been?


it was good catching up with John and Kara
it has been too long
guess we will see them on Halloween
as their block which used to be our block as well
shuts down on Halloween and has a huge party for young and old

john and I got to cover some good memories, some good insight, some good drinks, and well... I tried to clean up his Windows 98 machine
that and talk him into getting a new computer
also trying to get him to get a new bike
while at johns drinking his wine... I also grabbed a New York Times Sunday insert that had a story on Bono

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