Ignoring the Signs in Alexandria: Baseball, Bullets, and Bloodshed
James “Tommy” Hodgkinson must not have seen the signs. They were hard to miss in the Alexandria, Virginia, neighborhood known as Del Ray where he gunned down Republicans playing baseball.
“Practice Kindness” yard signs are ubiquitous in Del Ray.
If he did see the signs, Hodgkinson must not have taken them very seriously.
Del Ray prides itself on being a diverse and progressive neighborhood. In 2016, Hillary got 4,549 votes in Del Ray and Trump just 883.
Another house (with a United Nations flag and a “Proud Democrat” sign) a few blocks from the baseball diamond has a “Little Free Library,” a birdhouse-shaped hutch where one can take and give books. Next to it is a chalkboard: “Kindness Is Everywhere, I Saw It Today When…” it says, inviting folks to complete the story.
“Traffic stopped for me to cross,” says one answer. “Friends came to my defense when an infernal troll targeted me on FB.”
A good chance that last spat involved politics.
Since Trump’s win, yard signs have sprouted up in front yards all over Del Ray, just blocks from the shooting scene.
“Practice Kindness, Build Communities” is the most common. Here's another: “Make America Kind Again.”
Then there's this long-winded cause-cornucopia: “In this House We Believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, No Human Is Illegal, Science Is Real, Love is Love, Kindness is Everything.”
Another banner posted at the ball field before the shooting captures lots of causes (some in Arabic), including: “In the Future I Hope That Coming Out Doesn’t Exist Because Everyone is Just Who They Are.” In the photo below you can see the baseball field in the background.
There was also: “No Matter Where You are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor.” No sign in Del Ray may say more.
Which brings us back to ball field shooter James Hodgkinson, because he was apparently a neighbor to everyone in Del Ray for the last few weeks while living out of his van.
We now also know Hodgkinson was a dedicated soldier in the #Resist movement. His rage at Trump and Republicans led him to abandon his life in Illinois and travel to Alexandria. He lived in this overtly welcoming community in a van loaded with ammo.
We may never know what led him to live a vagabond’s life in Del Ray, but I suspect it wasn’t the custard at The Dairy Godmother.
Hodgkinson had murder on his mind, and his trek to the Washington, D.C., suburbs points at a small universe of targets. He came to kill Republicans -- the more conservative, the better.