Who’s got rats?

A giant blow-up rat with yellow hair and a long red tie, holding a wireless phone handset outside the federal courthouse.

A demonstration outside of the federal courthouse where Michael Flynn was brought for sentencing in Washington, D.C., on December 18, 2018. Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull

I am a native Washingtonian. My mom was born in Anacostia, my dad in Maryland. I have mixed emotions about how President Donald Trump has been attacking Baltimore as a “disgusting” rodent-infested mess where nobody would want to live.  

My father’s family were tobacco plantation slaves turned sharecroppers turned farmers. Those that could escape North did so, settling in two cities, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and that’s how I got here. The result of a Maryland-D.C. marriage with a bunch of relatives in Baltimore. We loved to visit Baltimore as kids and I took my very special ladies there on dates as an adult, because it was a boss town!  

 Now that’s not to say it did not have rats. Baltimore and other cities have them in abundance. They thrive in areas with urban lifestyles.  

 But dear Mr. Dotard I must covfefe, Washington, D.C. beats Baltimore by a mile for rodent infestation! Lest we forget one of our most renowned citizens, Marion Barry, created the jobs program known as Pride Incorporated and led a war on rats in the 1960s.  

There are many types of rats in Washington. The nation’s capital is home to the country’s largest rodent species — the two-legged variety known as politicians and lobbyists. 

The Rats of Rock Creek Park are revered for their ferocity and voracious appetites. I recall a time when folks would not leave their pet cats or even large dogs in the alleys of Park Road Northwest for fear the rats would devour them.  

The Potomac River Rats that dwell right in your own backyard, Mr. President. While homeless I slept in parks to the left, right, front, and rear of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and each location was infested with rats far worse than any mentioned above.  

And for the record, Mr. Benedict McDonald’s, sir, your son-in-law may have over 200 housing code violations in Baltimore but it does not give him bragging rights. Washington, D.C. and particularly the space where you live win the Great Infestation Award, hands down!   

The District wins… or do we?  

Ken Martin is a Street Sense vendor.  




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