Armed Standoff Tests Limits of Government Power and Resolve
[This is a totally hypothetical story. I wonder how it would play on Fox News]
[New York] The situation remains tense this morning in West Harlem as city, state and federal officials face off with an armed and angry populace at 142ndStreet and Fifth Avenue. It is unclear how this problem will be resolved.
The story began ten years ago when neighborhood residents turned a block of West Harlem into a community garden. The block had been the site of the 369th Regiment Armory until it burned down [it didn’t] in 1998. Over the past decade the Regimental Garden has become a center of pride and activity for the area.
Five years ago, the General Services Administration announced plans to erect a federal office building on the site to house various agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration. They ordered the garden removed from the site. When the local residents refused, multiple summonses were issued.
Last week, bulldozers appearing at the site to raze the garden were met by hundreds of protesters, who chained themselves together to block their path. They returned the next day with armed policemen, but were still unable to gain entry. After the story was picked up by news outlets, particularly MSNBC, armed members of the Black Panther Party, from New York and nationwide began pouring into Harlem and took up sniper positions on surrounding rooftops.
When interviewed by the media, the leader of the Regimental Garden group, Amir Abdul-Jabbar, said:
This is about freedom. We are the patriots who built this country, including the national capitol. We do not recognize the Federal government in Harlem as anything other than an occupying force. This is our land. We settled it and it is ours. We demand that all federal, state and local law enforcement officers abandon the site and remain at least five blocks away. Any attempt to enter the garden will be met with force. We suspect that the official powers are planning a raid under the darkness of night which will result in a repeat of the attacks on MOVE in Philadelphia and against the Black Panthers in Oakland.
UPDATE: In an attempt to reduce tensions, police forces and the bulldozers have been pulled back from the site. Despite this gesture, armed snipers remain in place.
Photo by Matt Green, used under Creative Commons license