Moving more carefully so as not to push or shove anyone, Carter caught up to the front rows of marching women. The eleven-year-old had squeezed herself between her mother and an accompanying woman, but her two younger sisters continued to skip ahead, using the candles like wands.
Suddenly, even as Carter spotted Giroux, a few feet ahead talking with his cameraman, Melisenda Ferris left her slowly moving companions and rushed, bird-like, toward her two younger daughters. Her tall burka-clad companions immediately elbowed their way into the front row.
The mother reached to grab her eight-year-old’s hand, obviously intending to reprimand her for using the burning candle as a wand. The little girl yanked her hand out of her mother’s grasp and viciously stabbed at her mother’s face with the lit candle. Melisenda Ferris screamed in pain and horror and covered her face with both hands.
Two Marines of her guards threw off their headdresses, revealing military crew cuts, and rushed toward her. For some reason, they stopped just short of reaching Melisenda, who staggered around with both hands pressed to her face. Instead, they turned and attacked those who followed behind. In seconds, the black-clad formation of marchers fractured as the police rushed in, their riot shields held in front of them to push the bodies out of their way. Their bamboo sticks marked their aggressive movement through the crowd. The marchers in the distant rows were still singing but soon their voices were drowned out by screams, cries and gunshots.
Carter failed to immediately react. Maybe it was because the scene felt so unreal.