They were a microcosm, just one white police officer and one black man, talking. But the conversation Friday between a Portland Police Bureau captain and a local actor shifted something.
It was the antidote, they both said, to a week of shootings that left officers and black men across the country dead.
Portland Police Capt. Michael Crebs and Alonzo Chadwick first met last Wednesday at a performance of "Hands Up," a series of seven monologues, each written by a black playwright after Ferguson. Each piece explores race or police violence.
Some of the monologues were "real negative" toward police, Crebs said. It "took some effort," but he pushed himself to sit there, to listen.
"For me to be my best, I need to hear those experiences," Crebs said. "As a police officer, it's so important for me to understand the people that I serve. We are all just humans trying to get by on this earth."
Chadwick performed "Superiority Fantasy," a 10-minute monologue that tells the story of a man routinely hassled by police.
Like that narrator, Chadwick's experiences with police have been negative. The 36-year-old first encountered an officer in a Northeast Portland park when he was 14.
"I was treated as if I didn't deserve to be there," Chadwick said.
Then, when he was 19 and driving his first car, a female officer pulled him over on Northeast Alberta Street. Three other cars quickly appeared, he said.
"My mom had given me the talk, taught me how you should comply so you can come home alive," Chadwick said. The first rule: Never reach for anything. An officer might think you are looking for a weapon.
"I was crying," he said. "I knew I was getting ready to die. She told me to roll the window down. I told her I couldn't. My window button is in the middle of the car, and if I reach over you're going to think I'm reaching for something and you'll kill me."
The stop ended without incident, Chadwick said, but before the officer drove off, she said she had stopped him because his tail light was out.
"I asked her, 'You did all that because I had a tail light out?'" he recalled. "And she said, 'You fit the description of somebody we're looking for.'"
Since then, Chadwick said he has had about 25 encounters with police, 80 percent of which have been negative.
So when Crebs stood up at the end of Chadwick's performance last week, the actor wasn't sure what to think.