- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

A man who drove his John Deere tractor into a shallow pond near the Washington Monument and Vietnam Veterans Memorial yesterday held police at bay and jammed city traffic for more than 12 hours.
The man was identified as tobacco farmer Dwight Watson, 50, of Whitakers, N.C., who is angry about changes in government farm policies. A decal of a tobacco leaf was on the tractor, as were the words Gold Rock Farms.
U.S. Park Police officers, who were handling the situation, said they knew the man's identity but would not release his name.
The man was wearing a white helmet with a red cross and was waving an American flag and occasionally playing music.
Officers were negotiating with Mr. Watson by cell phone.
Reporters were kept at a distance throughout the afternoon and evening, with authorities saying they were concerned about the possibility the man could have explosives.
There were reports that the man claimed to have ammonium nitrate, the same explosive used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but, again, police would not confirm the report.
"Time is on our side," said Sgt. Scott Fear, a Park Police spokesman. "We are going to be very patient."
Last evening, police parked two dump trucks filled with salt near the site but they wouldn't say what they might be used for. But as midnight approached, the dump trucks had been taken away.
A John Deere tractor could be clearly seen in a pond near the Reflecting Pool, in the area known as Constitution Gardens.
The Jeep pulling the tractor jumped the curb at 20th Street and Constitution Avenue just after noon before ending up in the water.
The tractor was pulling an older, military-style CJ Jeep and a trailer. The tractor became disconnected from the other vehicles, and the Jeep was partially submerged. The tractor had messages on its cab supporting veterans.
The man was sitting in the cab of the tractor, which was in about 3 feet of water. He was reportedly playing recordings of military exercise cadences, although Sgt. Fear would not confirm the kind of music being played. The area was roped off with crime scene tape.
"We have a dialogue going with the subject," said Sgt. Fear. FBI agents and officers from the Metropolitan Police Department were also on hand, and a Park Police helicopter circled overhead. City firetrucks and ambulances were also on the scene.
As the afternoon rush hour was about to begin, several roads in the area were shut, including Constitution Avenue NW, which is a major exit route for commuters heading to Virginia over the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
The area is home to the Department of the Interior, the Organization of American States and the National Academy of Sciences. No buildings were evacuated.
Police took the man's actions seriously.
The Emergency Response Team was deployed, along with several armored trucks.
Earlier in the evening, a police sniper could be seen in the bushes next to the Art Museum of the Americas at 18th Street and Virginia Avenue NW.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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