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COLUMN

Happytown

This week we take a SWAT at Patty Sheehan's condo-hostage shenanigans, get ready to take a bullet wound in all 50 states and listen to Newt Gingrich fans discuss a new target-practice immigration policy. BANG!

Photo: Jeff Gore, License: N/A

Jeff Gore


Sometimes, we’re astounded bythe access we are allowed. Take, for example, our invitation to the “pre-party” on Sept. 14, hosted by the Friends of Lake Eola in preparation for a much larger Downtown Night Out event the following day. We were told in the press release that this social appetizer, held at the Waverly condominiums, would feature a “grand entrance” from the Orlando Police Department’s SWAT team, which would “rappel from the building’s rooftop onto the pool deck to rescue District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan during a hostage situation demonstration.” Naturally, we were going.

We arrived amid an uneasy confluence of social circles – stocky, plainclothes police officers standing next to rich, old women smudging their lipstick with brownies, standing next to Sheehan’s black-shirted boosters, like the Friends of Lake Eola’s Brian Braswell, who had arranged the SWAT exercise with Chief Paul Rooney. The chief made our typical prodding unnecessary by introducing himself first, but when he heard the phrase Orlando Weekly, he was quick to inform us that there was “nothing negative” about the impending demonstration. “It’s all on duty. There’s no overtime or anything like that,” adding that “we need to train.”

For more training, that is. (Apparently, the manager of the towering Vue condo skyscraper wants a demonstration as well – stay tuned.) But first, a short history of rappelling in Orlando: A SWAT officer next to Rooney recalled bouncing vertically down the facade of City Hall, as well as that of the old Amway Arena – in training, of course. Rooney, who has been on the OPD payroll for nearly a quarter of a century, had to dig deep to think of a time when Orlando SWAT officers combined rope play and real crime fighting– he arrived at the year 1993, when cord-straddling cops were sent to an International Drive hotel “just to get a better view of the suspect.”

After a half-hour of observing mindless, finger-food-laden chatter, we were practically drowning in our own anticipatory testosterone. After 15 more unbearable minutes, the scripted mindlessness be-gan. Plainclothes Commissioner Patty Sheehan took to the mic, and, brandishing her patented Victim Card, dredged up the horrors of the era when the anarcho-vegans of Food Not Bombs wreaked havoc through four hours a week of pure homeless feeding terror. “One of the residents of the Waverly was mugged after one of the feedings, but you never hear about that in the media,” she said. Can someone please tell Sheehan that this thing is over?

Chief Rooney then took to the stand, and after some fluff, finally, finally, it began: “You’re in for a treat,” Rooney said. “If you look up …” BANG! A man with a bandana-covered face appeared with a revolver, strong-armed Sheehan, who wiggled lamely, and fired off a blank right next to our fucking ears. Then, the corniness ensued, with more deafening, wine-glass rattling shots. We posted video of the whole charade in Bloggytown the day of the fiasco, but we’ll give you this sample of dialogue. [Gunman: “What? Are you going to bring in the SWAT team?” Police negotiator: “You want the SWAT team?” Gunman: “Bring it on!” So, porn, then.] BANG! Jesus Christ, that’s loud! We wished so badly that the six Food Not Bombs members arrested in 2007 for violating a noise ordinance – for drumming and shouting outside a fundraiser for Mayor Buddy Dyer – were here for this.

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