I was walking back home through a small street where kids from a nearby high school often gather to smoke, hang out, or chat each other up. It was six o’clock, and it was already getting dark. I was thinking about my novel and not paying too much attention, when I saw two cops drive their motorcycles, tires screeching, right up in front of a teenager standing by an electricity pole. He was tall and lanky, wore jeans and a jacket, and seemed entirely harmless. One of the cops got off his bike, and told the teenager to turn out his pockets. The boy refused; the cop slapped him.

Almost instantaneously, a handful of the teenager’s friends moved away to the other side of the street. I heard someone yell out loud–from a safe distance: “So this is democracy?”

When the pat-down didn’t reveal anything, the policemen told the teenager he could go. Just as he started walking away, they made him turn around and walk in the opposite direction–for the hell of it. And then they sat on their motorcycles and watched.