“Yeah,” said one man as he waited for the bus, his eyes on the sign, “when you got a full head of hair.” “There used to be jobs. A lot of them.”
We went to the mall parking lot, where we could hear a group of middle-aged men arguing about how long it would be until it opened. The line was at least forty minutes long; we would have to wait ten minutes more.
We decided to wait. When the buses arrived the next afternoon, we rode up through the night. The first thing I noticed was that the buses seemed to be carrying more of the older crowd to this part of town. The bus that had arrived just before us had not been used in months. “We didn’t come up here to be a victim,” I said, looking around for the sign that said, “No Bus Stop. It’s Time for Action.” Everyone nodded, but there was no visible reaction from the people in the waiting area. When the second bus pulled out, the crowd was again in front of it; it was the same story.
This was the first sign of trouble. The next bus was about fifteen minutes late, and the crowd had begun to grow impatient. There had been many complaints about the waiting, but not to a mob. The crowds were now growing and the people on the bus were getting agitated. The man who had asked me to come to his bus station seemed agitated too, even as I tried to ignore the crowd outside. A black woman, who was in her twenties, held him back from the crowd. I told her about the sign, and she became angry and, she said, “I’m going to do everything this sign says.” She walked over to the sign, held it high above her head, and chanted its words, in what she said was the voice of Jesus. I turned my head away from her and looked at the door; I saw the man inside take his seats and take in the scene. The scene was very similar to the scene on the evening of my first day: the buses that came out of the airport before the protest against the closing of the stores were being met by people in front of them calling to them, then throwing rocks. There’s no denying that if more people had taken a stand on Monday night, the situation may have been very different. But there are many people who have come to this country, and they’re going to put all their energy into doing everything the signs say and nothing
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