It was dusk, the corner of South Grand and Juniata Streets in St. Louis, MO. Breezes enhanced our comments while seated at an outdoor table at The LemonGrass, a Vietnamese restaurant, the remains of rice-vegetable-tofu dishes in front of us. Several blocks away a dissonance loomed, its menace penetrating the fabric of civility around us. Something was amiss.

Shouts of some kind echoed down the corridor of tall buildings with storefront businesses. Seconds passed with the shouts becoming more distinct. “No justice! No Peace!” crackled over a bullhorn, followed by the antiphonal response of protesters waving signs and pumping fists. Leading them was a girl wearing a red jacket and sitting in a motorized wheelchair. “No justice! No peace!” crackled again; its voice morphed into a muscled man wearing a cafe-au-lait-colored suit, the bullhorn resting upon his chin. Again came the response, “No justice! No peace!” shouted by the protesters, their numbers flowing into the street. Cars in opposite lanes honked in support.

In seconds, red-blue flashing lights swooped upon the scene. Tensions flared like flotsam upon angry seas. We watched as six unarmed officers, some gripping batons behind their backs, cordoned off the protesters and inched them back toward the sidewalk. Their passion momentarily diffused, they regrouped further down the street. The police cars followed.

In the ensuing lull we reviewed impressions: shock, fear, tolerance stretched to the max, prayer for both sides of the impasse, relief. Someone was listening.