Sept. 2, 2011
That Was the Week That Was was a BBC satire show of decades ago. It set the pattern for many American imitators. I almost feel the past two weeks have been a satire of reality. The last week in August seems like it was a month ago. We began normally enough. With Congress out, the commute in to Washington was eased. Then, on Tuesday, August 23rd, the East Coast shuddered through the strongest earthquake since 1897. Happily, there were no reported deaths or serious injuries. And most property damage was limited. In Washington, the foundations of the Washington Monument seemed more seriously damaged than was originally thought. And the National Cathedral lost some portions of its century-old towers. Theyre stringing netting inside the Gothic structure as a precaution. The stained glass windows of that magnificent edifice contain a fragment of Moon rock. It would not do to have the Moon land on worshipers.
I was on the sixth floor of my building when Earthquake Elvis started--a whole lotta shakin goin on. Out we go, by the stairs, I yelled to co-workers as I made for the exits. Those twelve flights of stairs never seemed so long. The next day, I was mildly chided for doing the wrong thing. Earthquake Advisories from Janet NapolitanoBig Sissay youre supposed to stay inside your building in the event of earthquake. But the local news acknowledged that a decade after 9/11 there is no way to persuade folks to stay inside.
We had just recovered from after-shocks when Hurricane Irene, blew in over the weekend. Downgraded to a tropical storm, she hit the Metro area hard enough. My home in Annapolis was one of the 750,000 customers without power. Not just for a few hours, but for days. We had summoned our son home from Marylands Eastern Shore, where the storm was forecast to be most intense. Salisbury might flood and lose power, we heard. So home he came.
As it happened, he was on hand to help us pitch a 12-foot limb that had fallen into our backyard. It was like Scottish gamestossing the caber. Others in our neighborhood would spend the week without power as crews chain-sawed huge uprooted trees. Now, just days later, the street is all spruced up, if not oaked or mapled.
Once the earthquake aftershocks were over and power had been restored, life could return to some semblance of normal, we thought. My wife and I sat down to watch a movie. The windows were open to receive cool breezes, the first time in days the night air was not being torn by the roaring of generators. Ah, peace and quiet returns.
Brrr-rrr-ring! The phone seemed more insistent than usual. A robo-callfrom the Anne Arundel County Police and Emergency Services. Wed never received such a call before.
The call was to inform us that one Bonrick Lee Barksdale had escaped from the District Court Building while awaiting extradition to North Carolina. The caller said he was armed and dangerous.
Off went the TV; we closed and locked the doors and windows. The robo-call advised us if Mr. Barksdale should come rapping at our door to call 9ll.
As my friend, Sig Swantstrom, a former SWAT team member, likes to say: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. We listened to helicopters and sirens wailing in the cool night air. Our house is pretty secure, especially since we had new deadbolts installed. But I had taken Sigs advice. This soft-spoken, calm and deliberate law enforcement veteran and his friends at Texas Republic Firearms Academy hope to persuade all Americans to take seriously their Second Amendment rightsand responsibilities.
With the morning light, our neighbor told us her teenage son had already learned that Mr. Barksdale had been apprehended by police. The neighbor boy learned all of this on Facebook.
We also learned that Barksdale had been able to overpower a female security guard from a contract firmnot even a city or county police officerwho had been assigned to accompany him to his hearing. The Baltimore Suns website noted: The authorities in North Carolina wanted Barksdale on numerous charges including kidnapping, attempted 1st degree rape, first degree sex offense and robbery among other charges.
How was it that such an accused perpetrator, with a previous record of escape attempts, had been placed in a situation where he could easily overpower a hired security guard and take her weapon? Does this record convince us we should put our family members lives in the hands of the authorities?
I was prepared if Mr. Barksdale came rapping at our door. He was described as armed and dangerous. I wanted him to know: So was I.