Today at work I had to have a couple kids arrested.
I was supervising a transfer point for my transit agency and two young girls began shouting at each other over something stupid. I am used to this, these kids have just gotten out of class, they are young and irritable. The problem was the way all the other kids had crowded around them and were egging them on. I could barely see what was going on through the crowd, but I heard some woman in the center shouting to the kids to split apart and stay away from each other. I consider this admirable on her part, and I felt a little frustrated that I have been told to stay out of these conflicts and merely report them. The official position is that in a situation like this, my getting involved just puts me at risk, which is probably true.
I called in and informed Base that there was something brewing and that they should send a police officer through. It was my hope that the sight of a patrol car would cause the crowd to disperse, but the police were a minute too late. You see, by this point the majority of the group had noticed the dressed-up man talking on a hand-held radio, and were beginning to move away from the platform. However, the two girls suddenly lost it and the fight began. They were slapping, pushing and shoving each other out into the private drive that surrounds the platform, and the mob was following them between the parked buses, cheering them on.
Finally the officers arrived, and with impressive speed, apprehended the two girls. They began by just talking to them, but as the girls began to give the officers more and more trouble, out came the handcuffs and they were taken downtown.
The thing that kills me about all this is that afterwards a young boy comes up to me and asks, "Hey, man, what happened?"
"There was a fight, so the police came."
"A fight?" he asked, a weird gleam in his young eyes. "Who won?"
I paused. "They were arrested," I said to him slowly.
"Yeah, man, but I want to know who won!"
All I could think to say was, "They were arrested, nobody won."
The youth walked away from me in frustration, and I found that I also was frustrated. I wanted to follow him, turn him around and tell him that there are no winners in a fist fight. Even forgetting that the combatants were arrested (which sure as hell sounds like a loss to me) no one wins a fight like that. When you have to raise your fists, when you lose control and when you inflict pain it makes you weak. It shames your soul.
I looked at the boy from across the platform, talking excitedly with his friends about what we all had witnessed. I thought of what it is about our culture, our natures that makes our people thrill to the application of brute force, and suddenly I felt a little lost.
I clipped my radio back to my belt and looked back at the child and his friends.
"Nobody won," I whispered.