At the center of the riot stood Reverend Alf, a huge smile stretched across his face.
“We demand justice! The Bradley Freeman family has suffered an injustice!”
His group of ‘protestors’ marched and shouted. They were joined by groups of young people bent upon destruction of property and violence.
Reverend Alf did nothing to keep control of the groups, those who stood against them would get dealt with. “They can join us or stand against us. Those against us will face our vengeance,” he shouted into a loudspeaker.
The crowd roared their approval. For years politicians had screamed to the heavens about fundamental change.
Change came to Fredericksburg on the hate-fueled verbiage of a so-called ‘Man of God’ and his bloodthirsty pack of hooligans.
Chief Janko, Manson, and Rankin stood in the center of the murder room in a small gaggle. All gestured animatedly as they spoke over each other.
“What’s going on,” Lilly asked.
“These hooligans are burning down our town,” Janko shouted.
“It’s about time,” Rankin snarled. Manson shook her head tried to separate the two men.
“Violence isn’t the change we need,” Manson interjected. “You don’t have to burn down people’s homes or businesses to make your point, partner.”
“We’ve brought it on ourselves! The times are changing, and we’re gonna reap the whirlwind.”
The trio turned to Lilly and Konan. Janko took two steps and leaned into Konan’s face.
“Well, what do you have to say about it?”
“Nothing, Chief Janko.”
“Whose side are you on this time,” Rankin snarled.
“I’m on the town’s side. Someone must keep a calm head and use logic. There’s enough raw emotion out in the streets.”
“You never change,” Rankin said.
Manson nodded and said, “you’re absolutely correct, Konan.”
“Correct or not, we need to get this under control.”
“And how do we do that, Thompson?”
“I don’t know, Chief. We could start by hearing what they have to say, and then we can go from there.”
“You don’t negotiate with terrorists, Lilly. And you sure don’t give them a platform for them to spread their message.”
Everyone turned to Konan, their eyebrows raised and mouths agape.
“Terrorists? You likened protestors to an insurgency, Konan.”
“Yes, Lilly. Who else threatens violence if they don’t get their way? Go listen to these ‘protestors.’ They demand change, and if they don’t get what they want, they plan to continue burning down the city.”
“That’s terrorism, Rankin.”
Janko stepped between his detectives and put his hands up to signal a stop to the conversation.
“Alright, alright! Enough. We have enough on our plates without turning on each other.”
Konan and the others knew that the damage had already happened. The divide between races threatened to split the country in half. America watched in horror as brother turned on brother, family on family, and the staunchest of allies betrayed each other.
Shakespeare couldn’t have written a greater tragedy.
“Go home, detectives. Do not go to the riot. If you disobey me on this, your badge better be on my desk in the morning.”
The four detectives nodded and muttered agreement. Konan and Lilly left the precinct together. Together they walked to the unmarked sedan, neither mentioned the conversation between the other detectives and Janko.
It wasn’t until Konan pulled into Lilly’s drive that she mentioned it.
“You really hate the riots, don’t you?”
“I can see both sides, Lilly. And as much as I sympathize with those who claim they’re unheard, oppressed, or whatever else, the answer should never consist of burning down what has taken years to build.”
Lilly shook her head but said nothing else on the matter. Words were futile. Konan would have to make a choice soon. His neutrality would not last.