In 2005, back when blogs were still called newspaper columns, I was walking around the District and I was approached by a roving band of thugs. There was a parade that day and it seemed that this group of young men was upset because the authorities had denied them entrance to the pageant. They hollered and gnashed their teeth and rattled the fences that separated them from the festivities. But it was to no avail. They gathered their belongings and stormed off.
I too hoped to watch the parade. But I was dressed in a respectable fashion and my behavior toward the authorities was civil. They deemed that I was not a threat to the sanctity of the parade and were willing to allow me access if I merely allowed a physical search of my person. I paused a moment to consider my options.
Suddenly, the ruffians returned. They had retreated to a nearby construction site and collected the various implements of destruction that the builders had left behind. Their intention was to use this paraphernalia to attack the authorities and gain a passage of entry to the parade. They dashed toward the fence, bellowing their frustration. But the authorities were not to be perturbed. They stepped behind the blockade, reached for their belts and unleashed torrents of pepper spray on the crowd. Right into their faces. And mine.
It was terrible. My face and eyes burned. Every breath felt like a firestorm in my chest. It was hours before I could draw a deep breath.
However, that wasn’t the worst thing that has happened to me at an inauguration.
I’ve started my own terrorist watch list. This guy is currently the only one on it.