Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Suspicious homeless polar bear deemed safe

It was clearly a dangerous situation: Yellow police tape crisscrossed the intersection, innocent civilians were ordered out of harm's way and the Metro station was shut down.

The bomb squad rolled in with their armoured vehicle, and out waddled the stiff, spaceman-looking officers ready to protect Washington yesterday morning. The situation? A homeless polar bear was rummaging through a trash can. Or rather, a mannequin dressed to look like a bear.

Photo from here.

The display that caused a ruckus near the Columbia Heights Metro station yesterday appeared to be street art.

The tall mannequin beneath the polar bear head wore a tattered flannel shirt and dirty pants. Some onlookers said it was there for several hours, peering into the trash can at 14th and Irving streets Northwest until someone called police at 10 a.m. "It's a suspicious package," police spokespeople declared. So in came the bomb squad and all the precautions of a post-Sept. 11 world.

Metro shut the station. Seven shuttle buses were summoned to move 218 people out of the blast zone, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel. Traffic was diverted; firetrucks and ambulances lined the streets.

Onlookers watched a bomb technician in a blast suit walk slowly toward the bear, then pounce and cut it open. He pulled out wads of newspaper until the big, white head flopped over.

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