It was a mess.
Broken glass from the left-side window of the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader lay strewn about the inside of our building last week. Someone, for unknown reason or motivation, destroyed one of our panel windows.
I gave my report to a patrol officer, making an unusual weekend commute from my Burbank home to see the damage. It’s ugly. A gaping hole was below the papers’ logos, and spider-web cracks of green glass crawled up the sides.
I feel violated and angry.
Was it someone, drunk and angry at the world, stumbling out of the nightclub two doors down? Someone upset with our stories? We share the building with North-West College, and perhaps some former student was displeased with the medical assistant training they received.
Or, perhaps, it was something else. Something that has nothing to do with any of us.
Still, odd things have been happening. A few days ago, someone decided to take out his anger on our mailbox, partially tearing it off the wall in our first-floor foyer. Several months ago, someone stole the news rack that formerly sat outside the building. That news rack was replaced, though put inside the building and within the range of our security cameras.
The officer I spoke to said there were etchings on the glass, scratches that looked like gang insignias. Someone from a rival gang, she said, may have seen those marks and decided the best course of action would be to bust the window down. Eliminate the canvas, so to speak.
I don’t know. I only know that the glass was intact that Friday when I left via the front door. That itself is unusual. I, and most of the staff, usually leave by the back door, as it’s closer to the parking lot. But I exited the front door last night because I was attending an event at the Americana at Brand down the block.
On a strange level, a good part of me hopes that whoever did this was motivated by undirected anger or gang ties. If someone decided to attack the newspaper office because of its stories, columns or editorials, we’re all in a lot of trouble. There is violence and hatred in the world. That much is true. But if we can’t talk about our issues in this public space, breaking a window instead, that’s a sign that our democracy is going off the wheels.
Look at journalists in Mexico. I have met several reporters at papers in Michoacan and Tijuana, and have been deeply humbled at the idea they would consider me a colleague. Reporters, photographers and editors in Mexico take their lives in their hands daily to tell the stories of gang violence, political apathy and police corruption.
We have issues in Burbank, to be sure. Troubles within our police department have been well documented, and the officers and command staff face an uphill climb, both externally and internally, to regain the trust of people here. There are fights at City Hall about issues vital and picayune, and our schools are facing yet another year without the funding than they truly need.
Despite the civic troubles and disagreements, the worst that seems to happen is raised voices, vitriolic blog postings, and the occasional hurt feeling. We can disagree without resorting to violence.
Which is why I deeply hope this attack on our window was random. And I sincerely hope the police find the scum that did this.
Our window has been boarded up. It is less than attractive, I know, but its ugliness is far preferable to having razor-sharp glass shards within feet of the public sidewalk. The window will be fixed soon, but my anger will not be salved so quickly.
DAN EVANS is the editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.