Since my arrival in Washngton DC, I have walked or biked more than fifty kilometers and spent at least six hours on the phone accomplishing nothing more than demonstrating that Lincoln’s “government … for the people” does not exist.
Let’s start with the most egregious. I got on an eastbound Metro at Rosslyn Station and sat in an aisle seat opposite a young woman staring at a cell phone. Several times, she put down the phone and stared at me for several seconds. No expression, though—not sad, not happy, not friendly, not hostile. Meanwhile the man sitting against the window is making odd hand motions behind her. Not sign language, which I have studied, and occasionally pointing at her.
I don’t know a lot about human trafficking, but this certainly raised my suspicions. I attempted to take their picture, without letting them know I was doing so. With an iPad, that’s nearly impossible, but I think I succeeded in not tipping my hand. Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture. I decided to get off and the next stop and report what I had seen. As I started to arrange my things, she suddenly did the same and got off before me. He stared at her as she got off and afterward. I sat back down, and he began acting like his hand motions were related to some music in his headphones. So now I’m even more suspicious.
I got off at the next stop to look for a policeman. Yesterday, they were everywhere. Not today. I approached a traffic control officer. They only deal with traffic, but I asked her where to find a regular policemen. She didn’t know. Looked around some more and found a Metro police for the same question. He didn’t know. Decided to go to Capitol Hill, thinking surely there would be some kind of law enforcement making sure no one gets too close to a government official.¹
The six dollars I had paid for this card were apparently used up by the two rides I had already taken. Not wanting to take the time to add money to the card and figureout which train and which stop, I went back out and asked someone in a fast food shop to call the police and ask them to send someone to talk to me. They told me to ask next door.
The gaurd in the office building next door was willing to call, once he knew the reason. The police wanted a phone number to call me. When I said I didn’t have a phone, they asked several questions and then said to call the Metro Police. The Metro Police had trouble believing I didn’t have a phone, but when I finally convinced them, they said they would send an officer to meet me at the station entrance. By then, it had already been over thirty minutes since I last saw the might-be-a-pimp. I hope I was wrong about both of them, because by now, “they done got away.”
I stood at the Metro entrance with my bags and coat for ten minutes, and then turned around to see a Metro Police officer three meters away chatting on a cell phone. I did not interrupt his phone call, thinking that after forty minutes it doesn’t make much difference. Instead, I got out my iPad, turn on the cell (data only; no phone) and searched “human trafficking Washington, DC.” The first hit was the “Human Trafficking Task Force.” Scrolled down the page and saw an address that seemed like it might be close, so I checked the map and decided it was worth the walk. As I approached the location, I was hoping I hadn’t had a “senior moment” and changed the address in my head. But it was the FBI, so I thought “good.” When I reached for the handle to the “visitor’s entrance,” a uniformed officer popped out and held the door while he questiooned me. Upon learning of the reason for my visit, he told me to go to the Metro Police. When I said that they apparently don’t care, he shrugged and said that it’s their jurisdiction.
Just in case there had been that ”senior moment,“ I checked the page again. Sure enough, the first address on the page was where I was at and also said FBI.
Why do you let your name appear below the words ”if you are a victim or a witness, please contact:“ if you are going to refuse to talk to a possible witness? Why do you have your address on a public page if no one is allowed to enter the building?
¹That’s another article, not yet written.
After more than an hour trying to report possible human trafficking, I gave up. But that evening at the bus/train station, it only took a few minutes for three officers to appear to tell someone he could not clean up in the public restroom. Other officers were in a waiting room verifying that everyone had a bus ticket and chasing out anyone who didn’t. Can’t have any homeless people trying to rest their feet, you know. Paying passengers might not approve.