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a violent evening

April 19, 2005

A strange weekend. I went across to the mainland to do a couple of dives on Saturday, which meant that on Friday I was sitting in a bar in Naha when a bunch of US marines walked in. A couple were shirtless, one had a split lip, and so the barman asked them to go somewhere else. I didn’t notice the resulting confrontation until, as the marines were leaving, one of them took a kick at the glass door on the way out. The barman—a large bloke—flew out and wrestled him to the ground, and suddenly there was an intense stand-off, involving lots of shouting between the (five or so) marines and the (two) bar-staff, while the customers watched uneasily, hoping it wasn’t going to turn any nastier. Fortunately, the other girl working at the bar stepped between the barman and the marines and told them firmly to go. Which they did, though with a fair amount of cursing.

What exactly happened next, I don’t know for certain. Possibly the marine who had kicked the door stumbled drunkenly on the steps. I suspect he tried to go back up to have another go at the barman and one of his friends pulled him backwards. Either way, what happened was that he went flying down the stairs and smashed his head against one of the lower steps. Which resulted in an unconscious marine lying in a pool of blood on the pavement of Naha’s main street.

What happened then was this: two of his friends did a runner. The others panicked and started giving him heart massage (the fact that he was breathing being apparently lost on them). When the police came, it seems they told them that the barman had physically thrown their friend down the flight of steps. Which was a straightforward lie: about half a dozen people in the bar, including myself, saw the barman come back in while the bloke was still standing at the top of the stairs. But it did mean that the barman and the other girl working there were taken in for questioning by the police. In fact, they were, it seems, questioned until about lunchtime the next day. All because of a couple of marines deciding to lie about their friend’s accident — presumably either to pass the buck or to get back at the barman for refusing to serve them.

I doubt there’s any need to bother trying to express the extent of my contempt.

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