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President George W. Bush came to Petworth on Thursday for a meeting on immigration and assimilation at the Centro Evangelistico Asambleas de Iglesias Cristianas on the 4100 block of 9th Street NW. He did not leave some neighbors happy, reader John McLarty reports:
This morning I awoke to the sound of short siren bleeps and an unusual amount of activity outside my bedroom window on the 800 block of Taylor Street NW. After some observation and poking around out front, I learned that the throng of police and suited men outside my house were in preparation for a visit by George W. Bush to a church located across the street on the corner. A large white tent was set up at the side entrance. How exciting, I thought.
My neighbor informed me that she went outside just in just enough time to move her car as they were preparing to tow all of the cars, this in spite of the fact that no-parking signs has just gone up the evening before and in some cases the same morning. I watched briefly then hurried off to work. On my way down the street, I asked a few of the men the reason for the visit and they ignored me in a manner most surly. After I got to work, I called a news station to find out the reason for the visit was a meeting on immigration.
According to my roommate, by late morning Taylor Street was cleared, helicopters circled above, agents were stationed in front and behind each home to prevent occupants from stepping outside (a neighbor tried and was shooed back inside), Georgia Avenue was shut down. When the motorcade arrived, my roommate and I had a few more moments of conversation and then he decided to take a shower, he was to leave for work by noon. By the time he got out of the shower, it was over. The helicopters, SS swarm, commotion and MPD were gone and everything returned to normal. Well, not everything; we did note that the cars that had earlier been moved weren’t returned to their spaces (all legal) along our block.
This episode has honed my perspective on our current administration and the war in Iraq. I would never dare to compare today’s invasion of Petworth to the horrors and tragedy suffered by the soldiers and families directly involved in the Iraq problem, but I did get a first hand glimpse of the arrogance, ineffectiveness and lack of consideration of our current regime. If they can’t coordinate with city police to put up no-parking signs a few neighborhoods away from the White House in the 72 hours that are provided as the appropriate lead time by city government, how could they possibly expect to supplant a dictatorship with democracy halfway round the planet. Citizens weren’t permitted to step out onto their front porches to view the arrival of their president on their street. I ask what damage could have been done on a porch that couldn’t also have been done from behind a window. Though I doubt my 90-something neighbor has sinister intentions, I someday intend to ask. Cars were towed in a working-class neighborhood with minimal advance notification. And what could possibly have been accomplished in the 20-minute visit, aside from perhaps placating P.R. on a favored sub-issue of this president?
What was witnessed by the residents of Petworth, what should have been an honor, was an inconvenience and yet another embarrassment to the White House. Next visit I ask President Bush to show up in Petworth with solutions for the schools, solutions to blighted Georgia Avenue, and forces to shut down the drug houses that operate footsteps away from the white tent and house.