December 13, 2016

Politics and Prose’s statement on recent gunfire


A view of the block of Connecticut Avenue that houses Politics and Prose (opposite direction from Comet Ping Pong).

A view of the block of Connecticut Avenue that houses Politics and Prose (opposite direction from Comet Ping Pong).

Just to be clear: there are lots of legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton. That she secretly traffics children to the sex trade via, for some reason, a Washington pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong is, absolutely and definitively, not one of them.

This did not stop a man from showing up there two weeks ago, armed with three weapons (at least one of which he discharged on the scene), to “self-investigate” the utterly insane news story. (The story, which is based on absolutely nothing but human fear and reactionary bile, has been promoted by fringe-right propagandists, including some members of Donald Trump’s transition team.) Probably the only good news about this is that nobody was injured; the gunman surrendered peacefully to police after discovering that no children were being detained on the site.

This is, to be sure, frightening and disturbing stuff. One aspect of the story that hasn’t gotten much national media attention, but concerns the bookselling community directly, is that Comet Ping Pong is located just up the block from Politics and Prose, a beloved and revered lighthouse of America’s indie literary scene. Last Friday, the store’s owners, Lissa Muscatine and Brad Graham, released a statement to their community about the incident and the positive lessons it taught them about their own community.

It’s a signal we’re proud to boost, from friends we’re proud to stand with. The statement reads in full:

On behalf of the entire staff at Politics & Prose, we want to convey our deepest gratitude to the many customers and friends who have expressed concern and support for us since the events of December 4. We cannot imagine a community more dedicated to its local businesses, its residents, and a shared belief in collective strength through respectful dialogue with one another. That P&P is part of such a community makes us proud — and more committed than ever to providing a safe gathering place that promotes tolerance, inclusion, and diversity.

On December 4, the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue NW experienced the very real consequences of the inflammatory fake news that now runs rampant online and across social media. The episode that afternoon thankfully culminated with no injuries and the arrest at Comet Ping Pong of an armed man who was inspired by outlandish conspiracy theories about the restaurant and other establishments on the block. But it also revealed something important for those of us who live, work, and shop in our neighborhood: We all experienced an overwhelming sense of solidarity as a community. Yes, several businesses and individuals in particular have been the main targets of the fake stories, but it was our community that responded as a whole.

Part of what makes our community so strong is an excellent relationship with local law enforcement and government representatives. The Metropolitan Police acted immediately and professionally on December 4, apprehended the suspect, and kept the public and our establishments safe. In the days since, we have continued to work closely with law enforcement, the mayor’s office, and neighborhood officials to bolster security on our block and the surrounding area.

As business owners, we were already a close-knit bunch working hard to support each other’s establishments and promote our neighborhood as a destination for customers coming from near and far. Now, at a challenging moment, we all have been heartened by the words and actions of so many patrons and friends who believe in buying local, who value the products and programs we offer, and who understand what it means to be part of a caring and vibrant community.

With thanks to all,

— Brad and Lissa