Whatever conflict was going on seemed to be exhausting itself.
Meanwhile, we were trying to decide if we should call the police. That's not a simple decision. If this was an inconsequential juvenile storm that was going to pass by, adding the police might have bad additional consequences. Afterward, I was able to figure out what my criteria might be in the future: in descending order of urgency, I'd call the police if men were beating up on a girl, if there seemed to be a gun or knife, if someone was down and being set upon by a group, and/or if a crowd was randomly smashing cars on the street. None of this was visible, though I can't say what occurred before the fight arrived in front of our yard.
Our druthers didn't turn out to matter. Suddenly we heard multiple sirens and shouts: "Get down; get down." Looking out the window, a cop was pointing a gun at a couple of boys down on the sidewalk in front of our house, and other figures were similarly spread out on the street. There were about half a dozen patrol cars.
I'm glad to say that on this occasion, the San Francisco Police Department was restrained. One kid yelled "nigger bitch!" at a Black cop; he was quickly cuffed. I can't imagine quite what the young man thought he was going to get out of that bit of bravado.
The commanding officer asked us to come out and say what we'd seen. We did, including that whatever it was about seemed to be abating before the officers had arrived. He told us that someone had called in that a kid had a gun; hence the overwhelming force. They had found no gun. He seemed to have already formed the impression that there was less here than he'd feared.
We never will find out what the excitement was about. We'll never find out if there had been a gun, though the situation didn't feel as it it included that level of violence.
Gross went on to interview a kid who had been recently badly injured by a street shooting.
I'm not going to fault that kid for his ambivalence about law enforcement. If he and his friends live, they'll be better off for not relying on the police. But they do need someone, somewhere, somehow, to rely on, someone who can get across to them that they are valuable human beings.