Last week my office building’s management was emailing advisories about a possible protest at the Civic Center BART station—the BART cops shot a drunk dead there a couple weeks ago. The protest didn’t materialize then but today we got another email, and sure enough while I was walking to the subway after work a squad car followed by two vans packed with cops came roaring down Mission. Inside the subway the P.A. told us that our MUNI car wouldn’t be stopping at Civic Center, and when we got to the station it was like the opening image of Among the Thugs in reverse: instead of standing on a platform and seeing a trainload of brawling soccer hooligans flash by, I was standing on a train flying past an eerily deserted platform—eerily deserted, that is, except for one old man in an orange vest, who was sleepily working a push-broom in one spot. There was no telling what, if anything, was going on one floor below us.
I got off at Church and my feet had barely hit the pavement before I heard an unearthly yowl followed by another one. Two women were in the middle of Market Street, one of them a homeless-looking black woman who was sprawled helplessly on her back, the other a white chick who looked like an office-worker. The white chick was straddling the black woman and totally whaling on her, raising her fist straight up into the air before swinging down and punching the other gal in the head as hard as she could. By the time I got across they’d separated and the white woman was stomping away with the black woman chasing and yelling after her. I’d have chosen another tactic myself, and for good reason, because suddenly the white chick started throwing kicks, half-karate and half-mule, back behind her, and one of them managed to catch the black woman in the stomach and knock her backwards off the curb, flat on her ass at my feet. I got her to sit up and sit still long enough for the white woman to get clear; then she started crying and digging her nails into me and refusing to move even though a bunch of cars were bearing down on us. Somebody found her shoe and her cell phone—because, you know, everybody has to have a cell phone now—and I finally got her to let go of me.
And now here I sit, with my happy little jug of apple juice and the roar of helicopters at the Civic Center coming through the windows. I believe I’ll be hunkering down tonight…O, happy day.