It's a solid 16 miles to the Capitol up the parkway, and we all know how long that drive can take with rush hour traffic. But it's a quick trip otherwise, and it's also a short express bus ride away. Our area is so convenient. It's not too far from the city to commute regularly for work but we have the beauty of woods and marshes in our Mount Vernon neighborhoods for leisure.
That natural beauty, and the distance always gave me a sense of peace and security once I got home. Now with telework and virtual learning due to the pandemic, I haven’t had that separation from home. It is more relaxing. I've been fortunate to spend more time with my family, my neighbors, and new neighborhood friends during this time.
After the violent events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, I was deeply disturbed as a first generation American, and as a local. I never expected, though, to experience the hate, destruction, and vitriol in my own yard the next day. But now I have, and I have little reason for that false sense of peace and security I had at home before. As I process the traumatic events of last week, I realize nothing about my location makes me safe, not even from events that take place in the city.
On Jan. 7, I was on a work-related conference call. I glanced at the clock and then out the window, it was almost 11:30 a.m. when I noticed a car driving recklessly all the way up to the house. A man got out and started shouting at the top of my driveway. I could hear him through my noise-canceling headphones so I went to the window to see what was happening outside.
A white man, about 40, medium stature, wearing a ball cap and sunglasses was screaming obscenities and repeatedly throwing my “A Woman’s Place is in The Resistance” yard sign, chasing it, and throwing it. I walked out to get his license plate number and see exactly what he was doing As I stepped into the yard, he called me every misogynistic name I had ever heard, sexist, hateful words. He threatened, "You have no idea, bxxxx, the resistance is just starting." He threw the sign at me and missed before he jumped in his car, peeled out of my driveway, and sped away. I didn’t know him, but it was clear he hated me and my yard sign.
If I hadn't seen the disgraceful behavior at the Capitol the day before, I would have assumed a stranger was having a raging psychotic break in my yard. I went inside and called 911 with the license plate number. The county officer who was dispatched did some diligent research.
He called back later that day and explained to me that the man, if he used a valid license, was headed back to Hawaii on Friday morning early. He had rented the car in New York and was only on the East Coast for 3 days. I know he is gone. But my yard signs are also gone, and now my sense of safety is gone. Extremist violence could happen again in our neighborhood.
However, I am grateful for the dispatcher and officer who helped me. I'm grateful for my friend who sent me an FBI tip form. I'm grateful for my neighbors who came to sit with me or check on me as I processed the unexpected attack at my home. I'm grateful for the positive response to sharing my story on social media so the community could be aware of what happened. Now I feel safer because I have you all, my neighbors. During the MLK holiday and Inauguration week when our community opens to thousands of visitors, it is the time to support one another and to make sure we are civil and calm and that our neighbors are safe and well. It is a time to share our inner peace, and the security we create by trusting and caring for neighbors.