This rapid-fire narrative comes from a friend of mine who teaches in the School District of Philadelphia, and with whom I'm working on a musical. It took him five minutes to write, and has stuck with me for weeks:
I go out to my car for lunch and as i leave the stairs into the main lobby i hear teen boys screaming, kicking, punching. I hear a teacher try to break it up and then I hear a thud. On my last step I see four thrity something athletic adults rip past me climbing the stairs in full pursuit. but it's when i open the main lobby entrance doors to Edicson High school that I see
and feel things that will be forever etched in me: Screaming up the student grass walkways I move aside as two phila police SUVS baelry halt in time from not hitting the lobby'e exterior garden wall. Three cops in each SUV, lights, sirens, bullet proof vests, holstered guns run up the stairs that I had just left. And then I watch amazed as i count iwith pride, adulation 13 more flashing police cars, at least 2 men in each, fit and trim, most with vests, pour into the school. One officer drops his gun, stops to pick it up, places it in his holster and proceeds. and then, unbelievably, three philly police vans, used for riot duties I guess, add another 15 cops into the fray. my first reaction is that there are no more cops left to protect
the city. I notice the older cops looked really piossed off and have their billy clubs out and raised as they climb the stairs. The cops with the vests seem to be special operations p[olice, they are the quickest, strongest and most well protected. They seem to give the orders. I watch from the parking lot and count 18 police cars, suv's and riot vans. after ten minutes I leave the parking lot and knock on the main doors. A school police lady sees who I am and let's me in. she tellls me there are over 50 policemen in full battle gear all over the school.there are gang fights errupting in hallways, classrooms, stairways. she tells me that
a roving detachment from one gang is picking pout and beating unprotected teens from a rival gang. I hear the principal over the intercomm. He talks to the teachers. He tells us that the school is in a lockdown. studentsa outside of a class during a lockdown may be arrested. ..certainly suspended at the least. I walk into my class to find the students excited but calm. ( I share a class with another teacher). The girls tell me that i missed all the fun. I am surprised at what they say. the bravest of the girls confess that the policemen ( I'm guessing the special op guys, are soooo sexxy. the bravest girl tells me, and the rest of the class for that matter too, that she wouldn't mind spending a nighrt in jai;l with one those policeman.
I ask what happenned and the smarter of the girls tells me it is a fight between a black gang and a latino gang, I go to the library and write this e-mail. People talk about the phillies, the weather. The cops are gone. Things are quiet. Only the principal cares anymore. he hopes the local reporters don't come.