Peace at All Costs 2 – "Kids, They Never Listen – Till They Do"
West Reseda Community Center
Well, seems word got out about this little "summit", may be standing room only by the time we're done here. At least, one can hope?
Officer John Nolan watched the flood of grim faced people slowly flood into the room set aside for today's "summit". Usually, such things were held between groups like the Crips and Bloods, people with real blood between them. People who knew poverty and desperation and lived on some really mean streets. You could tell the teens from the parents. The kids mostly looked down, didn't look Nolan, or his fellow officers in the eyes, and definitely shied away from their parents. Their parents, as a whole, were grim faced, asking the question everyone was asking: How the hell did it get to this?
West Valley for the most part, knew none of those things. The school had poor kids, to be sure, but they were the parents of hard working folks who tended to be very involved with their lives of their kids. And not a lot of gangs used martial arts as a means of settling their differences, usually, it was Mr. Glock or Beretta they tended to default to. This is a unique situation, to put it mildly. Nolan mused.
Most of the kids were here mainly because the school or their parents had "made" them, under threat of suspension or, in some cases, expulsion. Some of them wouldn't show…there was a warrant out for at least two of them. One for misdemeanor assault, and one for felony assault. Most of the parents were there for one reason: fear. Fear for their kids, and fear for their futures.
The looks the kids were giving each other was nothing short of scary. One was being wheeled in in a wheelchair, and she was quickly surrounded by at least several others from one half of the room. The others gave her death stares. A pair of Hispanic women entered, they purposely sat well away from both camps, and the younger woman had a look of pure hatred for both groups.
Nolan felt a bump on his left side, and turned to face a shorter African-American woman with short hair, and wide eyes. He'd know his TO anywhere, and he'd come to trust her implicitly. Talia Bishop smiled wanly. "We got problems already."
"Really?" Nolan grimaced, his voice not raising above a whisper.
"Yeah, one of the sensei is missing. He had a notice delivered to his apartment, but he didn't show, and Grey is making noise that if he doesn't show, we're to arrest him for accessory to criminal mayhem and 2 counts of assault and battery." Bishop shrugged, looking like she didn't agree with it either.
"Sounds like we ought to book the guy and be done with it. Not like he and that other 'sensei' haven't caused enough damage." Nolan whispered.
"DA wants this resolved with as few arrests as possible. Some of these folks have big pockets and well, it's an election year." Bishop shook her head.
"Shit" Nolan swore, hoping none of the kids heard his curse as his face twisted in a measure of guilt for saying it.
"Such a boy scout, Nolan. They've probably heard worse. If dufus doesn't show, he gets a BOLO put out on him, and we do our jobs. He's a goddamned Black Belt, so we're probably going to have to tase him right off. That's gonna be a ton of paperwork." Bishop mused.
A quizzical look crossed Nolan's face. "Isn't that a violation of procedure?"
Bishop smiled that knowing smile that always said Good question, but wrong, rookie. "Nowhere in your rook book, or departmental procedure does it say you gotta get your ass kicked to take a suspect in. You know the guy's good with his hands? You don't play that game, Nolan. You give him one chance to come quietly. If he doesn't, then we tase him, cuff him, and process him. Simple as that."
Nolan simply nodded, then took another look around the room. Many were taking their seats, but there was little small talk, or any form of pleasant conversation. In fact, Nolan had never remembered being in a room this..hostile. Might as well get started, he mused. He held up his hands and said "Um, folks, can we please be seated so we can begin? We've got a lot to cover, and sooner we get through this, sooner we can break for pizza." Nolan said that last bit with a smile and a light lilt in his voice, which improved the mood amongst the teens in the room. Teens, always hungry, feed 'em and they'll give you rapt attention. Nolan had learned this lesson being a parent himself, and it seemed to be working today.
Nolan gave the room a minute to get settled, then cleared his throat. "Hi, my name is Officer John Nolan of the Los Angeles Police Department. I and my fellow officers are here to see if we cannot resolve the differences-"
One teen shot up from her seat and pointed at the other side of the room "Yeah, we know why we're here, it's all the fault of Cobra Kai!"
Another teen, this one a smallish male with blonde hair who couldn't be more than thirteen, shot up in response "Yeah, like you Myagi-Do folks are so good, look what happened to Miguel!"
The entire room erupted into chaos, while neither side crossed the aisle, both sides yelled and pointed fingers at the other, with parents yelling and being held back by their spouses, or children, or vice versa. The room became a cacophony of voices.
It was all interrupted by a loud SMACK that got the attention of everyone in the room. Sergeant Grant was pacing the room, her collapsible baton fully extended as her eyes searched the room like a shark looking for its next meal, looking for the first challenge to her authority.
"Now, folks. My name is Sergeant Athena Grant of the Los Angeles Police Department. I do not like when people interrupt my officers. Especially when they are trying to do you fools a favor. Now, why don't we all sit down, and listen to Officer Nolan, before I start cuffing some folks for disturbing the peace?"
At that, everyone sat down in a flurry of murmurs and half-hearted apologies.
"That's better. Officer Nolan, I believe you have their attention." Grant said with a feral smile that said. Please start something, the paperwork would be worth it.
Nolan gave a nervous smile and cleared his throat again "Ok, as I was saying, we're here to see if we can resolve the differences between your um, dojos without anyone else getting hurt or arrested. I think everyone would agree that things have gotten out of hand already. We've had a riot at a high school, two people in the hospital, and two kids have warrants out on them for their arrest."
A shout of "But Robby was defending himself!" went up.
Nolan sighed "That may be, but the fact is, that's for a court to decide. Robby needs to turn himself in. The longer he is on the run, the worse this gets for him. Same goes for this Tory. And we need to have a talk with the two sensei for the respective dojos. I know Mr. Larusso is here. But we need to talk to Mr. Lawrence. If he doesn't show here soon, the DA has told us that he may get a warrant for his arrest."
Half the room gasped and the other half, mostly the parents, murmured a lot of "good, serves them both right" or derivatives of that statement.
"Look, I and my fellow officers have a job to do. A job you ask us to do. Frankly, there's other ways we'd rather do it. Most of us have seen where gang wars end up. What they do to neighborhoods, and we've had to tell families about loved ones caught up in the crossfire. We're just patrol officers, on our off duty time, doing this because we don't want to have to arrest anybody we don't have to. I am a father, Sergeant Grant's a mother. To the parents in the room, we get it. Your kids wanted to get self-confidence. They didn't want to be bullied anymore, and they wanted some discipline in their lives, even if they'd be loath to admit the last part." There was some chuckles from the adults in the room about the last part.
"I can see a lot of you are good kids. You're not much different from my son, Henry. He's 18. And he's going to college back east. He's a good kid and often, when he did get in trouble, he did because he was trying to do the right thing, just went about it wrong." Nolan spread his hands plaintively.
"Look, there's a lot more similarities than differences between you. Honestly, you're not enemies. Not all of you may be friends. But, you're not enemies. Can we start with that premise?"
There was a lot of murmurs and nods to that idea.
"Now, let's see if we can get to the bottom of how the hell this all began? Can we do that? No accusations, no 'you did this to me first'. I just want facts. We're going to talk to your senseis as well, but I want to hear from the kids first. If you don't feel comfortable talking in the mike set up, you can approach me or any of my fellow officers. I promise, whatever is said, stays between us. We're not looking to bust anyone today. We just want peace between you guys. A lot of us have cleaned up a lot of bodies in other parts of town, and we don't want to do that here."
Grant looked on at Nolan and smiled. Good job, Nolan. Told it like it was, and told the knuckleheads what was at stake, without making threats. That's what we need. Get these kids and parents to talk to us, and each other.