Stage one: Arrival.
All courtrooms: full. We, unwitting witness to a sentencing, sit and gawk and await our own fate of the day.
Stage two: Voir Dire
Panel selection. Numbering ninety, we are formally introduced to the noble, old theater seats, told to sit carefully and watch our step. Poupon-mustard wall paint and lingering asbestos, a proctor’s gratuitous ennui, the tattered Reader’s Digests and, my wool coat on my lap, I make a list of twenty-nine Things To Do waiting for eleven o-clock and the chance to answer questions about myself until my life and outlook are weighed, for their courtroom merit, against “Group L”, the procession of lank and lumpy figures bearing detached and distant countenance somehow less-or-more diverse enough to be chosen to represent themselves. If this be a random cross-section, then I and the world are no longer young, yet, together as “Group M”, a strange and worthy company.
We sit, in self-enforced silence, vestiges of the “good” school child’s dutiful obeisance, wanting the “A”, hoping for recess. Then, the clock, and time, and a “legal development” and the judge in street clothes and we are all excused, released into the stairwell to watch our step, and after we have served two and one half hours confined by law to a shaky theater seat in the Halls of Justice we are never more free.
* * * * * * * *
Post-script: Now, I’m writing this live. Live, meaning, I am alive. Sitting in a warm room, in my own house, fully clothed, nourished. In front of my eyes, there are are hundreds perhaps thousands of Brooklyn, New York residents on their backs on the streets. I am witnessing a “die-in” – American citizens of all ages, laying their bodies down in the middle of the road in SILENCE – to protest the death, not only of Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement, but of countless children who have died at their hands in this city. Make-shift caskets, bearing the names of the dead, lay at their feet. The only sounds are the hum of the camera equipment, an occasional two-way radio communication, and the winter wind. This is America, right now, this hour. If I did not know better, I would say that this may be the most pivotal moment in the social history of our country. Jon Stewart said it best. ” We are definitely not living in a post-racial society; I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we are living in at.all.”
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
winter, circa 1990/modified 12/4/14
all rights. Thanks. Adjourned.