Capital Mall Robberies Break Unwritten Code
A recent spate of muggings on the National Capital Mall has spurned public outcry and a page 1 story in today’s WaPo.
The green expanse of the Mall evokes many emotions, but wariness has never been one of them. Over the years, the lack of crime has created an aura of safety that allows joggers and tourists, children and couples to drop their guard and stroll in the day and even at night. That changed in recent days, when a band of robbers used the elm tree shadows to surprise and attack six tourists walking along Washington’s grassy sanctuary under the spell of the stars. It was as if an unspoken agreement had been broken between the underworld and the nation’s icons.
“There’s no question that the Mall has been off-limits to thugs, and it’s no surprise that they found it,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). “But it should only be for a split second.” Norton, a race walker who strides across the Mall when the sun goes down, was angry that the U.S. Park Police did not double up patrols on the Mall after what happened Thursday. Twice that night, bandits brandishing a semiautomatic handgun robbed a man and a woman, assaulted the woman and fled. A similar attack happened early Sunday. “You might give them a pass on Thursday night,” Norton said of police. “But it was inexcusable to have a third attack on a holiday weekend.”
Of course, turning the Mall into an armed police camp doesn’t exactly promote the sense of sanctuary, either. Still, Norton is likely right in that the muggings may well all be the same gang.
The Park Police clearly have nothing better to do, as they are out in full force every time our Congressional Softball League team is playing, standing guard against the possibility that someone might consume a beer in public.