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Violence on the BusHits 889 | Created 2005-02-22 | Modified 2007-05-19
The bus to work from the station is normally quite a sedate experience. We trundle through suburban sprawl, see the odd patch of woodland, a few tower-blocks, some shops. People get on and off, the windows are steamed up so you wipe a small hole and peer through it. It normally rains.
There are a lot of rowdy school kids that get on the bus en route, and if you catch the right bus then you'll be crammed in with them. You can listen to the latest gossip about that cow Sheila and catch up on tinny, bass-free r & b and rap tracks that leak from iPods and cheap MP3 players. The boys look moody, and remain silent, usually with hoods pulled right up, hiding their faces.
Today there's a small scuffle at the front of the bus. This is normal - often some kid will be feigning amazement that his bus pass is mysteriously out of date. And then outraged that he has to pay.
'I've only got a fiver.' [surly youth]
'That's okay, I've got lots of change.' [smiling driver]
Surly youth slams five pounds down on counter and looks like he's being robbed as he rolls his eyes.
But today the drama is more dramatic. There's a lot of movement, and from the back we see a ball of fight appear and then make its way through the bus. There's one white kid flailing around and three black kids kicking him and punching him in the head. One of the attackers grasps two posts with his hands and proceeds to kick violently with both feet.
This goes on for some time. One man next to me starts to shout things like,
'Leave it!' and 'Get off the bus!' But it has no effect.
No one offers to help.
Occasionally snowballs fly in through the open door to hit the victim's head, perhaps thrown by a slightly less aggressive member of the attackers. This seems poignant at the time.
Eventually it all stops and the three punchers go upstairs whilst the bleeding recipient looks a bit haggard and sorry for himself, but just takes a seat and says nothing.
I imagine that the bus driver will call the police, but no, the doors close and we carry on as usual. I peer out of the window and feel unbearably sad.
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