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February 18, 2011

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20 FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18 - MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2011 Cape Gazette Witness to a revolution)) By Ryan Mavity For nearly three weeks, the world watched as the mostly peaceful revolution in Egypt un- folded, ending with the resigna- tion of President Hosni Mubarak. Caught in Cairo as the revolu- tion began was Rehoboth Beach resident Jeff McPike. He was in Egypt as part of his job, Working as a commercial officer for a grain company. "My job was to basically mod- ernize and streamline the com- mercial operation and train some of their younger people in how the world grain markets work. Egypt is a big importer of wheat and corn," he said. His company's office was lo- cated in the suburbs of Cairo, an area known as New Cairo. McPike said the first day of demonstrations against Mubarak was on Police Day, Jan. 25. "It's a day that is set aside to honor the police in Egypt. It was ironically set up as the day to protest against the police. In Egypt, it wasn't politically cor- rect to protest against the admin- istration, against Mubarak him- self, but you protest against the representation of Mubarak, which was the police," McPike said. Despite the calm, McPike said some of his young employees told him that the next day was going to be a big day of protests. "Friday is their Saturday; no one works. It got pretty big. I was out in my suburb where it was very quiet. "It's an area designed for the growing middle class of Egypt and ex-pats like me. I was in my apartment watching on TV, a very normal day on Friday, walk- ing around the neighborhood, going to the market. It was dead. Friday night came and things got a little bit more serious. That's when the water cannons came in. The police were still out," McPike said. Police disappear He continued, "It wasn't until Saturday evening that I really started to become concerned, because the police disappeared. The police are ubiquitous; they're all over the place. My neighbor in my building, an Egyptian family, knocked on my door, told me to turn out all my lights, draw my curtains and be very quiet, because there were looters reported all around the neighborhood. That's when the conflict reached a crescendo be- tween the police and the demon- strators." McPike said lateSaturday night, he heard a Dumpster being dragged away and paving stones being loaded into a couple of cars. "My natural reaction was, 'They're looting the dumpster.' And then loud voices out front: You could see younger people out front, men, with sticks and metal bars and knives. I didn't know who they were. Not know- ing who they were, it was a little bit scary," he said. McPike said conflicting re- ports from Al-lazeera and CNN, the two primary sources of infor- mation, spoke of roving mobs or militias around Cairo. After a sleepless night, McPike moved from his apartment to a hotel near his office. "On Sunday, I realized they were dragging the Dumpster away to use as roadblocks, and they were using the paving stones as roadblocks also. Men in the neighborho6d had taken their own initiative and gone out, organized and developed a com- munity watch," he said.. McPike said real estate is one of the most valuable investments in Egypt, so landlords in his neighborhood wanted to protect their property from potential looters. His drive to the hotel took twice as long as normal because military checkpoints had been set up every quarter mile. "I live near a golf course. The first thing I noticed as I came out of my neighborhood was a large tank in front of the entrance to this country club's golf course. I was told everything is free now;, the army is in charge," McPike said. Once the army took control, Cairo took on the aura of a mili- tary occupation. Since all Egypt- Jan men must serve in the mili- tary, McPike said,-the demonstra- tors Were free with the army be- ing there, since most of the demonstrators had served in the military. "There were tanks every- where. There were armored per- sonnel carriers everywhere. There were no police, because the police were see n as a repre- sentation of Mubarak. They were the primary source of friction be- tween the administration and the citizens," he said. McPike said because of the low income of citizens in Egypt, there was plenty of corruption in the police force. He said the root of the demon- strations was the lack of oppor- tunity for wage growth and jobs for young Egyptians, as well as the'corruption of the Mubarak government. McPike called the demonstrations a generational conflict between the older; estab- lished status quo of the Mubarak government and younger Egyp- tians eager for opportunity and change. "If you weren't part of the Na- tional Democratic Party, which ruled Egypt, you were nobody, It was very much a one-party gov- ernment," McPike said. "I was in- terviewing people with master's degrees in marketing from American University in Cairo, which is a well-respected univer- sity. "They spoke Arabic, they spoke English and they were well versed in another language. Top grades, two or three years of work experience. I could get those guys for $700 to $800 a month. These are guys that if they had a visa to the United States and could come to the united states, would be making $5,000 a month. Easily. And that's the problem." to I we After moving to the hotel, McPike then began to worry how he was going to get out of the country. Mubarak shut down cell phone and internet service, mak- ing communication with the out- side world difficult. "I stayed in the hotel, but I did- n't try to get out initially because there was "such chaos at the air- ports. I waited until Tuesday. I booked a flight 6n Monday to Paris to try to get out and back to the United States because I did not know how long this was go- ing to go on. There were severe curfews in place, and the curfews kept getting more severe," McPike said. The curfews did not lift until 9 a.m., and airlines were canceling flights left and right. The U.S. government had scheduled evac- uation flights for American citi- zens but details were difficult to discover, McPike said. He spent 18 hours in the packed airport in Cairo awaiting his flight out before getting the. news that his flight was delayed. He couldn't go back to the hotel because a 1 p.m. curfew had start- ed and he would have to run the military gauntlet again. Then McPike caught a lucky break. He struck up a conversa- tion .with a person looking to plug in his cell phone charger. The person was waiting for a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, and during their conversation, McPike asked whether there were any seats on the plane. The person came back and said there was room on the one-way flight. SUBMITTED PHOTO JEFF MCPIKE, SHOWN WITH WIFE KIM, witnessed firsthand the beginnings of the mostly peaceful revolution in Egypt that saw the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. McPike had been in Egypt for his job as a grain trader in Cairo. The cost was $175. crazy on for the most part, "Being a trader I said, 'I'11 take the city was quiet, said McPike, itl'"he said. whose wife, Kim, works for the McPike spent several days in Cape Gazette. Istanbul, where he kept up on the The real worry, he said, Was demonstrations in Egypt. At fast the uncertainty over what would things calmed down, before pro- happen next. McPike said the Mubarak forces clashed with the demonstrations were in a fairly demonstrators, concentrated area, and for the ' MI hell broke loose. I was very most part, Egyptians went abo71t happy to go to istanbul for a'cou- their everyday business. pie ofdays," he said. McPike said he would go back After flying over to London for to Egypt once the government is a few days of business, McPike stabilized. was then able to fly back to the "The Egyptian people are by United States in time for the Su- and large a great, warm people per Bowl. that are very proud of their coun- While the images from the try and very protective of anyone demonstrations in Cairo seemed visiting their country," he said. Spicer's life Continued from page 18 he might have to live in ahome- less.sheker because he and his fa- ther did not get along. Two former students at Frost- burg State University in Mary- land testified Powell, who they identified in the courtroom, came into their apartment one evening, began stealing their pos- sessions and told them not to call police. One of the students, Michael Miller, said Powell held the bar- rel of a gun to his forehead for two to three minutes and threat- ened to kill him. Miller also said Powell showed him a scar that ran from behind his left ear down the length of his body. Powell was forced to stand in front of the jury box and show jurors the scar behind his ear. Powell faced multiple criminal charges for the incident, includ- ing burglary, assault and use of a gun during commission of a felony. Ha r /inatmt Before returning to court after a break for lunch, Judge T. Hen- ley Graves spoke individually with six members of the jury. He then summoned a bailiff to bring into the courtroom a tall, white man with a shaved head. "What's your business here, sir?" GraveS asked. The man, appearing like a deer in headlights, said he was there in relation to another case. Graves asked the man what he had shouted at jurors walking past him in the lobby minutes earlier. The man had loudly repeated, "Not guilty!" as jurors walked by; he said he had been talking to his girlfriend. "There was no intent to harm," the man said. "Get him out of here," Graves said. "Go about your business," he told the man. The penalty hearing will con- tinue until all state and defense witnesses have been called. Each side will present closing ar- guments, and the jury will delib- erate until agreement is reached on a recommendation for Pow- eli's punishment.