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The Stranger

On the morning of September 24th I received a call from my fiancé. Her speech was frantic and staggered. It sounded as if she was crying. Less than one mile from where I was using the gym, a stranger attacked her on her way to work. Without any provocation or warning, the stranger (we later found out he is an Air Force vet living on the streets) punched her on the face and dropped her to her knees. According to witnesses he walked – calmly – across the street and punched another woman. She was struck on the face. From there, the stranger walked away – still without any sense of urgency – and disappeared into Washington DC’s busy streets. He was eventually arrested and at the moment he is being pushed through the court system.

Based on the numbers from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) this was a successful end to a terrible event. The police should be applauded for doing the difficult job of protecting the people of the nation’s capitol. The helpless women who were attacked should be thankful that the Boys in Blue were there, in the nick of time!

But the numbers only tell a small part of the story. What the numbers won’t mention – what the apologists for the State won’t consider – are the events that happened between the first assault and the eventual apprehension of the Stranger by the police. (NB: I am calling him the Stranger because despite the wrong being committed against her, my fiancé has been given few details about the assailant).

The fact of the Stranger’s eventual arrest was precipitated by the deeds of caring and proactive individuals. Without their courage and thoughtfulness the deranged stranger would still be on the streets. The DC police were nothing but a Johnny Come Lately.

Once she was struck, a few shocked commuters stood in disbelief as he proceeded to attack another defenseless woman. Fortunately for both victims they were comforted by citizen bystanders (my fiancé by a law school student and the second woman by a coworker). In both cases someone took a picture of the assailant. Of course, they had no choice; the laws to purchase personal protection being what they are in the District of Columbia.

While I was on my way to the scene, unbeknownst to anyone a cab driver and commuter on his road-bike followed the stranger. The cab driver eventually circled back to the scene and told the crowd (now doubled in size) that the Stranger was two streets over. The Stranger – the disturbed vagrant who bloodied the faces of two innocent people – seemed to be gone without a trace. Police had not yet arrived.

Nearly twenty minutes passed until DC police arrived. No one on the scene knew where the stranger was and no one knew exactly how many more were injured.

It should be noted here that the attack on the second woman occurred on the private property of a business that was protected by a guard from a private company. The guard – working to serve his client and prevent any further injuries to his customers – was on the scene immediately to get his people inside. The company employees were clearly more attended to than those of us “on the outside”.

While statements were taken and cuts and bruises were tended to the Good Samaritan on the road-bike rolled up to the scene with news.

He had followed the stranger several blocks. Crossing busy streets to follow a man who clearly had no issue with attacking strangers, the Samaritan knew he could not allow this man to disappear. But why would the Samaritan do that? Perhaps he has a daughter the same age as the victims or an elderly mother who relies on the kindness of strangers. In any case, this is a very different picture that is painted by the elites of a society that would tear itself to pieces without the intervention of the government’s agents.

The Samaritan followed the stranger, called the police, and even snapped a picture of the Metro bus he boarded. That is, the Metro bus he was waved on to without having to pay. Why would the bus driver argue with one guy while the rest of us subsidize his fare!?

The call went out to officers in the area to find the bus, stop it, and apprehend the stranger. Several minutes later we were in a cruiser to identify the suspect. Both victims positively identified the man as their attacker.

“Someone will be in touch tomorrow”, said the police officer. Two weeks later someone from the District Attorney’s office got in touch to go over some formalities.

The casual observer may see the preceding events as a victory for law enforcement. They got their man. But that reasoning is vainglorious. Scratch the surface and we see the ugly truth.

The most obvious element of that morning is that, like many Americans, residents of the District of Columbia must overcome burdensome hurdles to carry personal protection. The recent court rulings on the matter notwithstanding, the people in the District are helpless. And, it would be foolish to count on the courts to preserve the natural right to self defense.

The other element of that morning is that if it were not for the law student, the cab driver, the private security guard, the road-biking Samaritan, and a half-dozen other people the mysterious stranger would still be on the street.

It is also not unreasonable to assume that he would have been apprehended by anyone of these people had it not been for the monopoly on the use of force that the government has arrogated to itself.

Examples of the government’s ability to take credit for things it has not done – or even actively tried to stop – are everywhere.

Post Script:

I send all my written pieces to my fiancé for her thoughts. She sent the following back to me: The police didn’t protect me, didn’t apprehend the Stranger by their own efforts, didn’t keep him off the streets, didn’t fully investigate the cause of the assault and aren’t protecting the community at-large, or the Stranger himself. If they aren’t keeping me safe, or rooting out violence, or facilitating mental health services, what are they doing and who are they serving?