STOP RIOTING – A Play for Monday (on a Thursday)

STOP RIOTING

A Play for Monday (on a Thursday) by David Lee White

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SCENE: A police department. The OFFICER is sitting at his desk. A REPORTER enters

REPORTER: Hi. I’m a reporter and I have a few questions about the young man that was shot last weekend –

OFFICER: (pulling out bullhorn)  *Squawk* STOP RIOTING.

REPORTER: I’m sorry?

OFFICER: *Squawk* STOP RIOTING AND STEP AWAY FROM MY DESK!

REPORTER: Uh… okay…sorry.

OFFICER: *Squawk*  I AM OPEN TO ALL INQUIRIES FROM THE PRESS. HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

REPORTER: Well, um, a member of your department shot a young man and witnesses say he was unarmed, so I’m wondering if you have any information about –

OFFICER: *Squawk* IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT RIOTING, JUST FORGET ABOUT IT.

REPORTER: I’m not thinking about… I mean…

OFFICER: *Squawk*  I’M SERIOUS

(PROTESTER enters)

PROTESTER: Justice! We want justice!

OFFICER: *Squawk* STOP RIOTING RIGHT NOW AND I MEAN IT.

PROTESTER: I’m not rioting! This is a peaceful protest!

OFFICER: *Squawk* DON’T SHOUT AT ME.

REPORTER: But you’re shouting at her.

OFFICER: *Squawk* I’M NOT SHOUTING. I’M SPEAKING IN A NORMAL TONE AND THIS BULLHORN IS AMPLIFYING MY VOICE. YOU, ON THE OTHER HAND, SEEM ANGRY.

REPORTER: I’m not angry. I’m just trying to find out –

PROTESTOR: I’m fucking angry!

OFFICER: *Squawk* STAND AWAY FROM MY DESK OR I WILL THROW TEAR GAS AT YOU.

REPORTER: Jesus… (puts shirt collar over face)

PROTESTOR: We have the right to assemble! (wraps kerchief over her nose and mouth)

OFFICER: *Squawk* NOW YOU LOOK SCARY TO ME. LIKE YOU’RE WEARING DISGUISES. MY GOD, I’M BEING ATTACKED.

(RIOTER runs in carrying a widescreen TV)

RIOTER: ‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me, ‘scuse me

PROTESTOR: Wait! Don’t do that! Come on, man!

(RIOTER exits)

OFFICER: *Squawk* THERE’S A RIOTER. I KNEW IT. (to PROTESTOR) STOP RIOTING.

PROTESTOR: I’m not rioting! That other guy was rioting! I’m protesting!

OFFICER: *Squawk* BUT HE LOOKED SIMILAR TO YOU. HE’S PROBABLY YOUR FRIEND.

PROTESTOR: I didn’t want him to do that! We were doing two different things!

OFFICER: *Squawk* THAT’S CONFUSING TO ME. MY HEAD HURTS. I MIGHT JUST SHOOT EVERYONE.

REPORTER: The people need to see this. (takes out a camera)

OFFICER: *Squawk* YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM THIS.

REPORTER: Yes I am.

PROTESTOR: We want justice!

OFFICER: *Squawk* NO YOU’RE NOT. IT’S ILLEGAL.

REPORTER: No it’s not.

OFFICER: *Squawk* YES IT IS. IT’S ILLEGAL IN THEORY.

PROTESTANT: Justice!

REPORTER: You can’t just arbitrarily decide what is and isn’t legal.

OFFICER: *Squawk* I’M SORRY. I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I’M WEARING EARPLUGS BECAUSE OF THE SIREN.

PROTESTOR: What siren?

(OFFICER pulls out hand-held siren and blares it in their faces)

REPORTER: Jesus!

(OFFICER pulls out gun and shoots REPORTER)

REPORTER: Ow!

PROTESTOR: What the fuck!

OFFICER: *Squawk* CALM DOWN. IT’S JUST A RUBBER BULLET.

REPORTER: Ow! It doesn’t matter! You still can’t do that!

OFFICER: (shoots PROTESTOR)

PROTESTOR: Ow! I didn’t say anything!

OFFICER: *Squawk* YOU WERE THINKING ABOUT IT. I’M A GOOD JUDGE OF CHARACTER. NOW PLEASE DISBURSE. I AM TIRED OF FIGHTING RIOTS AND I WANT TO GO HOME AND WATCH TOP CHEF.

REPORTER: (to PROTESTOR) Come on!

(REPORTER and PROTESTOR exit)

OFFICER: (lowering bullhorn) They always riot.

(VIEWER enters, eating popcorn.)

VIEWER: Hey, man. Nice job.

OFFICER: Thanks. Who are you?

VIEWER: Just been watching things unfold.

OFFICER: You from here? You have family here?

VIEWER: No. But I’m still entitled to an opinion and I think you’re handling everything beautifully. It’s hard work.

OFFICER: Everyone thinks I’m the bad guy. But try to imagine this. You’re a cop, right? And you just pull some guy over for speeding and it seems like it’s just routine. But then the guy pulls out a gun and opens fire at you and you come this close to losing your life. So you take out your gun and do what you’re trained to do. You get rid of the threat. Not only for your immediate safety but for the safety of the community.

VIEWER: Is that what happened?

OFFICER: No. But it could have.

VIEWER: The guy that was killed. He opened fire on a cop?

OFFICER: No. But you’re missing the point. He could have done that.

VIEWER: Did he have a gun?

OFFICER: No, but he could have had a gun.

VIEWER: Had he ever done anything like that ever before?

OFFICER: Not specifically, but people like him have done it before.

VIEWER: To you?

OFFICER: No, but to other people.

VIEWER: That you know?

OFFICER: Not really. But I’ve heard about things like that happening.

VIEWER: From who?

OFFICER: Other people. I don’t mean to sound vague. It’s just that this is all official business.

VIEWER: No problem. I understand. The whole thing is scary.

OFFICER: It is. It’s very scary.

VIEWER: I’m scared all the time.

OFFICER: I am too.

VIEWER: But it helps when I turn on the TV and see the people that I’m scared of in my imagination get beaten. It makes me feel like I have someone on my side. Can I borrow your bullhorn?

OFFICER: Sure (hands him bullhorn)

VIEWER: *Squawk* HI. HEY THERE, PEOPLE THAT I’M NERVOUS ABOUT. STAND AWAY FROM ME AND DO WHAT I SAY.

OFFICER: Feels good, doesn’t it?

VIEWER: Sure does.

END OF PLAY

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