Saturday, June 25, 2005


The three young black men sat on the curb amid the dried, crumbling bark near the trunk of a towering sycamore at 19th and Penrose, their hands cuffed behind their backs. Behind them in the deserted softball field, the scorched grass was dying blade by blade under the June sun. In the stillness of the afternoon heat, a crowd of neighbors watched from a distance, as the three white police officers, who were also young, moved methodically back and forth from their squad cars; the routine arrests unfolding as if in slow motion. Last week's breeze had disappeared, and throughout the Northside, vacant lots have begun to look more like parched savannahs, interrupted by diliapidated brick flats with tar roofs, their cockeyed windows flung open or shattered, exposing tattered curtains with nothing to hide, sagging walls dissolving, melting back into the earth.