On the evening of Saturday, January 30, I sat down at a friend’s PC and wrote a bitter rant, dressed up as an op-ed or something more journalistic, condemning the robbery of a Metro Access operator and the subsequent courageous actions of our Ward Seven city councilperson, Yvette Alexander, who risked her life, watching over the attacked driver (still unnamed, as of 1/31/10), until he got help. Now, hunkering down to write a more informed and revised thing ['Piece' sounds pretensious for this venue.], I am moved by the pluck and courage of Councilwoman Alexander and of the River East hills I call home to write something markedly different than what I had originally intended.
From what I have read in the Washington Post and have heard from outraged Penn Branch and Fort Dupont residents, at the time she stopped to inquire about the safety of the driver she saw lying on a Penn Branch area sidewalk, as she drove by, Alexander did not know that this man was a Metro Access driver, ..or that he was being robbed. That is when the councilwoman's SUV was set upon by two, masked men with handguns, who threatened to shoot her, if she didn't leave their victim to whatever dark fate they had in store for him. Defenseless and probably more than a little shaken up, Alexander drove far enough off that she could use her cellphone to call for help, without getting shot. She made that call, rushed back to the driver's side and stood watch over him, until he got that help.
There was nothing stopping the assailants from speeding back to the crime scene and shooting Councilwoman Alexander and the Metro van driver from whatever vehicle they were driving--absolutely nothing. Washington, D.C. is no stranger to ‘drive-by’ shootings. In the eight minutes it took for the police to respond (not a criticism of DCMPD), I’m sure that must have crossed Councilwoman Alexander’s mind--that and the fact that she really need not have come back at all. She really didn’t have to be there; yet, there she stood.
Say what you will of the Councilwoman’s part in it—Monday morning quarterback it to death, if you must—I call that heroic, and I think it’s commendable. She did the right thing, and she survived to tell the tale.
I'm not even getting into the issues surrounding 911's response to this situation. Our Councilwoman, Yvette Alexander, is handling that, and, if there's a fight to be had about it with the folks Downtown, she's time enough for them. When she doesn't have all the answers, she'll leave no stone unturned, until she finds them. Whatever you're going through, she makes sure you know you're not going through it, alone. Councilwoman Alexander is a big-hearted lady, who never shrinks from a fight for her beloved Ward 7, ..and she wins most of them! She is defiantly optimistic, refreshingly authentic, ..and I'm glad she is alive to fight another day.
In spite of that kind of optimism, events like this robbery can stain the soul of a community, even when no blood is spilled. It is my ambition that we do not let this or any other attack on Penn Branch change who we are at the core—who Councilwoman Yvette Alexander was, when she came to the aid of a stranger. We are good people, and, in spite of those who would prey upon and destroy us — of those, who cruise our tree-lined hills with jealousy and contempt for the peace our parents and grandparents have worked so hard to give us — we ought to go right on being good people.
That is the war to be won here, Brangler.
We live in a place, where you can look straight up into the sky on a clear, starry night and see a flurry of golden, shooting stars raining like gold coins from the heavens ..or the International Space Station pass overhead, looking very much like a traveling planet. We live in a place, where our children carelessly play outside, well after nightfall, and summer lovers steal kisses in the shade of dogwood trees, ..bewitched by the fragrance of *Concorde grapes on a passing breeze—where old, silver-haired friends look back on harder times from the comfort of a porch ..and laugh out loud! We live in a truly blessed place, this majestic and wondrous Penn Branch.
This neighborhood is so much more than where we live – it’s who we are. We are good people, and it’s going to take more than men with guns to take that away from us.
We will be vigilant. We will be careful and wary and prepared for the worst, ..but, we will be Penn Branch. We will never give it up.