Then mobilize, said Paysinger. Form more charters, get mad, get involved.
"It's about community taking care of community," Palmer said. "You can talk about not having resources, but what would it cost to teach our kids how to conjugate verbs on a Saturday morning at a church or conference center?"
When I steered the conversation back to race, and the relationship between the LAPD and the black community, one customer said little had changed, particularly with the police.
Mr. Tolliver is never slow to denounce social and racial injustice, but on this point he begged to differ.
In 1992, he said, he didn't trust the police and didn't expect that ever to change. Today, his son has been an LAPD officer for three years, and on the wall at L.T.'s are photos of the last two chiefs — Bill Bratton and Charlie Beck.
You have to believe this LAPD is different than the one that ran into Rodney King, said Tolliver. He called Bratton a friend who did a good job of making the force look more like the city, and Beck attended the funeral of another Tolliver son, who died of cancer last year after the illness forced him out of the Houston police academy.
"There's been a remarkable difference," Tolliver said, speaking of more than the Police Department. "When I drive to Downey, the foursome I play golf with has two white gentlemen and one Hispanic, and sometimes Rev. McKnight. Now why would I drive all the way down to Downey? Because they're very nice people, and we enjoy talking to each other. During my time playing in Downey I've met a lot of white Republicans, but I've learned they want many of the same things I do. They want their families to be successful, and they want their country to be successful."
OK, he admitted. They may not agree on everything.
But to help make his point, and wrap up the conversation, Mr. Tolliver turned to retrieve a printout of some King quotations he'd been going over. With his shears and quotations in hand, he read to the shop.
"We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
And one more.
"People fail to get along because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don't know each other. And they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other."
Amen, Brother Tolliver.