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3 October 2016, Washington, DC October 4, 2016
ABC news reports that just after 4:00 p.m. on 1 October, an unknown man spray-painted, “No justice,” and a red line/circle drawn through the word “peace,” and “Black lives matter – Van,” on either side of the 12th Street entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. The term “Van” was written in red. It is not exactly clear what this term meant. It might have been the vandal’s graffiti signature.
The Trump hotel, on 12th and Pennsylvania, is the Old Post Office Pavilion. Mr. Trump’s real-estate company signed a 60-year lease for the property for the express purpose of converting it into a hotel.
The vandal was videoed in broad daylight, and his actions were posted by the twitter account, @AngryBlackManDC, and multiple news outlets. He was a male wearing a yellow shirt, dark pants, white sneakers, and a white hat, and he appeared to be carrying a satchel. Several passers by called out to the man as he left the scene, making his way toward the Federal Triangle Metro building.
USA Today posted video of interviews with African American passers by in front of the graffiti, all of whom said that such vandalism was not the right way to protest. One was a Trump supporter, too young to vote, and the other was of voting age. The hotel had placed boards up over the graffiti, and a hotel spokesperson said the police were investigating.
There are three takeaways here. First, the individual who carried out the vandalism was audacious and highly motivated, primarily because, a) he did it in broad daylight in front of scores of people, b) he made no effort to hide his face, and c) he clearly did not fear immediate apprehension by law enforcement.
Second, additional political vandalism and possibly even protests and riots might occur again at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. This is because, a) Donald Trump is a lightening rod for intense political vitriol and occasional political violence, b) Trump’s most radical detractors have dehumanized him and his supporters, which “justifies” vandalism and violence in their eyes, c) the audacity issues mentioned above, and d) the violence surrounding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and associated and/or inspired groups and individuals. These latter entities have been associated with:
- Intimidating protests like this one in Minnesota, and this one in New York City, which called for the deaths of police.
- Riots like this one in Charlotte, NC, that caused property damage to city entertainment venues and hotels that included assault and battery on hotel employees and the murder of fellow rioters.
- Assassinations of police in places like Dallas and New York City.
It should be noted that several BLM leadership figures, like DeRay Mckesson, have called for this type of violence to stop. Mr. Mckesson has also said that police never have the justification to take a life, even if attacked with deadly force.
Third, hoteliers in Washington, DC, particularly Trump International Hotel and neighboring businesses and office buildings, should consider the potential threat issues highlighted here and be prepared to rapidly increase security on very short notice. The Charlotte riots that damaged more than seven hotels in September 2016 unfolded in just a few hours’ time from the triggering event, so there might be very little warning time if violence descends on the Trump property and nearby venues by way of a protest-turned riot.
Worst-case attack scenarios based on past instances of BLM-related violence should be considered by the Trump property and nearby businesses and properties. These scenarios include violence that occurred in New York, Dallas, and Charlotte. It should be noted that rioters would likely have sacked at least two hotels in Charlotte had police not formed picket lines to protect them.
Additionally, because of the above-mentioned audacity factor and doomsday political vitriol surrounding Mr. Trump, even more destructive attacks using firearms and explosives should be considered as possible threats.
Sources and further reading:
“Donald Trump’s New DC Hotel Vandalized With ‘Black Lives Matter’ Graffiti,” ABC, 3 October 2016.
“New Trump International hotel in D.C. vandalized with Black Lives Matter sayings,” USA Today, 3 October 2016.
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