Dear Governor Pence,
On behalf of your new neighbors in Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C., we invite you to join us for pizza at Comet Ping Pong. In doing so, we hope that you will help us quell the damaging impact of a bizarre “fake news” story that has put us all in harm’s way.
As we are sure you are aware, Comet Ping Pong, a beloved neighborhood restaurant, has been under a savage attack as the result of a detestable “fake news” story, claiming that the restaurant and its owner are involved in a child exploitation ring tied to Hillary Clinton. This falsehood first appeared on so-called “alt-right” news sites and then quickly spread across the Internet. Although it is preposterous on its face and has been repeatedly debunked by law enforcement, the story has provoked a deluge of death threats, menacing visits, and other threatening conduct aimed at the restaurant and its employees. It appears that the threats have now spread to other small businesses on the block.
Governor, you have chosen our neighborhood as your own. You have chosen wisely. We are a terrific close-knit community that represents the best of America. You have campaigned during much of your career as a “small town boy” who believes in the virtues of family, faith, and freedom. Our families, faiths and political beliefs may differ, but we are a family neighborhood with the same hopes for our children and love of our country as those in your home state of Indiana.
We are a small town in the city, rich with small neighborhood businesses like the Politics and Prose bookstore where children and seniors gather for readings, and Comet Ping Pong which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Along with Politics and Prose, Comet anchors the business district on our Main Street, Connecticut Avenue. Families come together along the Avenue to buy books, ride scooters, walk dogs, and enjoy meals beside their neighbors.
This past Sunday, an armed violent extremist, radicalized online, showed up to “self investigate” these fictitious claims. Armed with an assault weapon and storming through a restaurant filled with strollers and children, he aimed, by his own account, to “save the children” he believed were held hostage there.
Now, your new neighbors are hurting. Parents and grandparents are left struggling to explain to our traumatized children why a man would fire a gun in a family gathering place in the heart of the community. Families are frightened for their own safety. Our small businesses are vulnerable. Police now patrol the block. And our small Main Street has been catapulted to the center of a firestorm. Meanwhile, social media continues to fan the flames.
Your new Administration has pledged to represent and serve all Americans. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to doing so.
Governor Pence, we ask that you help bring an end to this madness through the simple act of breaking bread with your neighbors at Comet Ping Pong. By doing so, you will send a powerful message to the perpetrators of these hateful attacks that this baseless and dangerous campaign of hate must stop. Last Sunday’s assault on Comet ended peacefully. The next attack may not.
We hope you will join your new neighbors at Comet Ping Pong. Please come. Bring your family. Vote with your appetite and conscience against the hatred and division that this controversy has stoked.
Neighbors Organizing for Power & Equality (NOPE!)