- Leroy Thorpe, right, talks on the phone while ANC commissioner Doris Brooks is attended by medics. (Photo: TBD Staff)
UPDATE Wednesday, Nov. 3, 5:16 p.m.: Convention Center Community Association president Martin Moulton sat down with TBD to explain his version of the events that unfolded outside Precinct 18, which matches what most other witnesses said they saw Tuesday afternoon (see the original story below).
He describes arriving at the polling place on his bicycle to drop off some fliers and other materials for some of the ANC candidates he was supporting, at which point Brooks approached him. According to Moulton, Brooks began "mumbling something" about her anger over Moulton's public opposition to Thorpe, something about "me abusing Leroy," Moulton says. He acknowledges then yelling "get away from me" at Brooks, in the hopes of diffusing what he feared could end up becoming yet another overly dramatized episode between himself, Brooks and Thorpe.
Moulton says he was standing between Brooks and his bicycle, and that as he turned around to pick up the bike, he felt her hit or touch him on the back, at which point she appeared to fall down. He says he never touched her, and that he doesn't know what might have caused her to fall (probably just losing her footing), but that there's no way she could have tripped on his bike wheel, because he was still standing between her and the bike. Thorpe then rushed to Brooks's side, accusing Moulton of pushing her.
"At that moment I thought, the best thing I could do is walk away from this," Moulton says, so he left the scene before waiting to find out whether Thorpe planned to call the police. But given Thorpe's long record of abusing the legal system in his effort to discredit Moulton, it was a pretty safe bet that he would.
rode took his bicycle into Virginia, at which point he began calling a number of high ranking D.C. police officials, including Chief Cathy Lanier and Third District Commander Jacob Kishter. He says he left messages for at least four MPD officials in the hopes of making sure his version of events was on the record right away. "The potential for further disaster in my life was huge," says Moulton, who only recently emerged from an expensive, year-long legal battle with Thorpe. Thorpe's $20 million lawsuit against Moulton was ultimately seen in court for what it was, frivolous, and was settled and dismissed in September. But not before Moulton got stuck with thousands of dollars in legal bills.
As it turned out, Brooks admitted to officers who responded to the scene that Moulton did not push her, and no charges were filed in the incident. But Moulton admits he can't help but be nervous about what Thorpe and Brooks might decide to do next, given their long history of litigiousness and over-the-top behavior toward him. "This is precisely what happened almost a year ago," as he puts it, back around when his legal nightmare first began after Thorpe called 911 and falsely claimed that he had a civil protection order against Moulton, whom Thorpe had merely spotted dropping off some fliers to other homes on his block. Thorpe would later be convicted of filing a false police report based on that call, and Moulton says he plans to file a Freedom of Information Act request for Tuesday's call. He imagines the authorities might be interested in knowing whether Thorpe might have made another false statement to a 911 operator.
Original story: Never a dull moment in Shaw neighborhood politics!
Longtime ANC commissioner Doris Brooks, the current chairwoman of ANC 2C, was taken to the hospital shortly after noon today following what can accurately be described as a skirmish outside Precinct 18, located at the Henry C. Gregory III Family Life Center in the 1500 block of 9th St. NW.
Witnesses described what began as a verbal confrontation between the elderly Brooks and Convention Center Community Association president Martin Moulton. The two apparently started getting into it over Moulton's recent disparaging postings to the Shaw neighborhood e-mail list about oft-controversial neighborhood activist Leroy Thorpe.
What happened next is less clear. ANC 2C01 commissioner Alex Padro said he saw Brooks reach out to touch or hit Moulton on the back, but that she appeared to trip and fall over the tire of Moulton's bicycle when Moulton moved to get out of the way [NOTE: Padro now denies having said to me that it appeared Brooks might have tripped on a part of Moulton's bicycle. I disagree with Padro's recollection of our conversation.] Thorpe, who was also on the scene, insisted that Moulton had pushed Brooks. However it happened, Brooks ended up on the ground.
"He touched me but he didn't push me," she eventually told police officers who responded to the scene. One officer then replied that there wasn't much she could do in terms of pressing charges. Brooks, who told medics she wasn't in any pain, elected to go to the hospital to get checked out, and was then transported by a D.C. Fire/EMS crew.
Moulton took off on his bicycle before police arrived, and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Thorpe, well-known for his aggressive tactics and obstructionist practices when he served as the former ANC 2C chair, and Moulton have a long and sordid history. In 2009, Thorpe filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order against Moulton, accusing Moulton of being "obsessed" with him, e-mailing him too often, and leaving fliers at his door. The filing touched off a series of counter-complaints and lawsuits that ultimately ended in Thorpe's entire case being dismissed along with him being found guilty of filing a false police report.
Since he lost his ANC 2C02 seat in 2006 to commissioner Kevin Chapple, Thorpe has been accused of continuing to attempt to influence the work of the commission via his relationship with Brooks. Brooks briefly appointed him to the fictional role of "parliamentarian," which led to some wildly tense meetings.
Today, Thorpe is seeking election to the ANC2C02 seat once again. Moulton and other neighborhood activists have been running a full-court press to make sure voters aren't taken in by Thorpe, even maintaining a negative website at LeroyThorpe.com that recounts Thorpe's strange behavior over the years. "Do not be fooled by the fake charm offensive he is using for the ANC campaign ... Thorpe is well known for his bigoted and divisive statements," reads the site's homepage, under the banner "Leroy Thorpe - Never Again!"
Outside Precinct 18 this Election Day, Thorpe accused Moulton of being the one who's "crazy." "Why would he run from the police?" Thorpe asked.