Friday, October 4, 2013

Washington DC: Evacuations, Pursuit, Death, and Assumptions

(From New York Magazine, used w/o permission.)
Miriam Carey, deceased.

Life, Death, and Opinions

A woman driving a car in Washington DC yesterday caused alarm by apparently attempting to run a barricade near one of the major buildings.

This action prompted a variety of security and law enforcement measures, including evacuation of some areas and pursuit of the vehicle which triggered the alert.

The car's driver, a woman, refused to stop for police and fled. At least two police officers were injured in pursuit of this vehicle. Police later shot and killed the driver. She did not have a firearm in her possission. A baby was found in the car and removed to a safe location.

That's what I'd heard and read in news reports as of early this morning. There was a great deal more, mostly about how folks felt about the situation: which I found interesting but not particularly informative.

This morning, someone drew my attention to an op-ed about Miriam Carey's death.

The op-ed told the story of a defenseless woman, confused by a big city and traffic. The writer went on to describe how she innocently encountered a barricade and was needlessly "surrounded by multiple police vehicles" and men with guns.

In a manner reminiscent of the heroine in an old-time melodrama, the woman fled in a panic-stricken effort to save her baby. Then the bad men shot her.

Dealing with Reality

I am sorry that Miriam Carey is dead.

I think it's possible that some folks driving in Washington DC may be unaccustomed to urban traffic. Some may even be unaware of events in 2001 which led to some of today's inconveniences, and encouraged authorities to take apparent attacks seriously. But my guess is that very few manage to trigger evacuations and injure law enforcement officials in a pursuit.

The account may be true, although the reporter was apparently able to interview a dead person.

Or the account may more accurately reflect the reporter's default assumptions.

I'm more inclined to believe the latter: particularly since it seems to reflect a belief that all police are evil oppressors.

Obama and a Dental Hygienist

Apparently Miriam Carey was justified in her actions yesterday: from her point of view.

From my point of view, this is sad:
"Miriam Carey Thought Obama Was Watching Her"
Joe Coscarelli, New York Magazine (October 4, 2013)

"The woman killed by police in Washington, D.C. yesterday following a car chase from the White House to the U.S. Capitol underwent a mental-health evaluation last year, CBS reports. As previously noted, 34-year-old Miriam Carey was believed to be suffering from post-partum depression. Her boyfriend contacted police about her condition in December, when she told officers in Connecticut 'that she was a prophet, that President Obama would place the city of Stamford under a "lockdown," and that he had her and her residence under electronic surveillance.'

"Despite the incident, she was not known to the Secret Service before yesterday, according to CBS.

"CNN reports that investigators found the schizophrenia and bipolar medication Risperidone at Carey's Stamford apartment, as well as the antidepressant Escitalopram and 'a letter addressed to the boyfriend ... [that] appeared to contain white powder.'..."
I don't know what Connecticut law enforcement policy is for dealing with folks who say that they're a prophet. Maybe they should tell the Secret Service about everyone who makes similar claims, or warns of coming government oppression. Then again, maybe not.

As for the "white powder," I'm pretty sure that someone will grab that factoid and spin a tale of conspiracy and bioterrorism. At this point, I think it's white powder: and that's all I know.

Mental Illness, an Inquiry, and Assumptions

I'd be surprised if folks in law enforcement didn't start an inquiry after an incident like yesterday's. There were too many loose ends: why did the woman try to get around White House security; is the dead woman actually Miriam Carey; could this incident have been avoided?

Unlike the 'victim of bad men' op-ed, this BBC News piece sticks fairly close to facts and reasonable speculation.
"US police launch inquiry after deadly car chase"
BBC News (October 4, 2013)

"An investigation is under way after a police chase through the heart of Washington DC ended with an unarmed woman shot dead and two officers hurt.

"The woman identified as Miriam Carey of Stamford, Connecticut, had a one-year-old girl in the car. She was unharmed.

"Authorities have searched a home in Stamford believed to be Ms Carey's.

"On Thursday, her car attempted to bypass a security gate at the White House, and police opened fire as she sped off towards Capitol Hill.

"'Mental illness'

"Ms Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist, was said to have suffered mental illness in recent months.

"Law enforcement officials suggested the incident may have stemmed from a delusional obsession with US President Barack Obama and a belief he was stalking her, local media reported.

"Chief Jonathan Fontneau of the Stamford police said that officers had been called to her home there 'at least once' but that she had no criminal background...."
The BBC also mentions that Miriam Carey was driving a black Infiniti sedan. Interestingly, I haven't run into an impassioned plea that black cars, sedans, or Nissan's Infiniti, be more heavily regulated: or banned outright.

On a more serious note, I think that people do things using technology; not that technology makes people do things. And that's another topic.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.