01-28-19 AUDIO AVAILABLE SOON
“Thanks for coming. I know this can’t be easy, so thank you for deciding to help. We don’t have a lot of time so let’s begin.’ The lead lawyer directed his words to the small but important group. They had volunteered to assist in the defense of Howard Walker. Howard is charged with harassing the black family who lived next door to him. The family had collected years of hate letters, phone messages and videos and police reports. And the lawyer needed help sorting thru all the materials to prepare for trial.
Howard was the member of a political group called Our American Rights and the helping group were all members. The group was also associated with other organizations that were far-right, conspiracies theory activists. They all had racist tendencies though they seldom admitted it. So, the group was ready to help their political friend. They could see about twenty boxes of letters, video monitors with headphones, and audio recording listening devices. There were two large chalk boards. One board was titled The Family and had a long list of information about the black family. The second chalk board was titled Howard and was otherwise blank.
The lawyer started organizing the people, “We need to understand all the evidence that the Family may bring up in court. This will help us in preparing our answers. So, I would like to divide you all up and start reviewing every item and take notes. We need to find proof that the Family was the aggressors, and that they are the true haters. Howard was only protecting himself, and that Howard is a good law-abiding man. Whenever you find evidence mark it on the board and put it in the box below. Does everyone understand their jobs?” Everyone eagerly nodded. “so, let’s begin.”
Two members started with letters and began reading intently. Others listened to recordings and others watched videos. Helen was one of the group listening to recordings. As she listened, she read the chalk board about the Family. An educated father who sold insurance, mother who is member of school counsel, two little girls, no police records, mother is coach of girls’ soccer team, and no complaints from other neighbors. But they were obviously black. Helen listened to phone conversations with angry Howard demanding that they move and the black mother begging him to stop with the girls crying in the back ground. She thought that didn’t sound good for Howard, so she moved to another recording. It was about the same. She kept sorting thru the recordings, then came lunch. They all went to a coffee shop together, but they noticed Helen disappeared and missed lunch. They tried calling her but she didn’t answer or return.
So, the remaining group continued with their jobs. As Bucky read letters, he also read the Family board and he became uncomfortable about Howard’s letters. There were no complaints about what the Family had done, and as far as Bucky could see the Family didn’t do anything to Howard. They just asked to be left alone. Now Bucky was not fond of black people. He thought segregation was a good solution. But he also thought they deserved peace, if they were good law-abiding people. He started feeling sick from the letters. His mind was changing about Howard. Bucky didn’t return the next day.
By the end of first day many of the other helpers were not looking well. After two days of continuous Howard hate, they were saturated with bad feelings and no longer wanted to help. They didn’t want to seem weak to the others, so they made up excuses. On day three only two men showed up to help. This startled the lawyer. He thought that these were the people who would stand with Howard no matter what. He looked at board and not one item in support of Howard was added. He gave the men a pep talk, they started their work.
The videos were probably the most damming. Howard can be seen in black face taunting the Family. There was a cross on the lawn. The best the men could say is that sometimes they could not tell for certain that Howard did it, but everyone knew he did. But there were also videos of little girls running in fear of Howard and crying in the mother’s arms. To one of the men this crossed a line. Children should be off limits. But that didn’t stop Howard as the videos showed. The man stood up and said “I’m done, those children don’t deserve that. I’m done.” He walked straight out the door refusing to hear the lawyer’s protests.
The last man reaffirmed is solidarity “the niggers will kill our race, if we don’t stop them dead. I’m with Howard all the way.” The lawyer set back in this chair and ponded his course of action. Even Howard’s friends would not stand with him. Accept this one unrepentant racist. He knew the best defense for Howard would be plea bargain and beg for mercy. So, he canceled the project and sent the racist home. But before he left, he gave the man his business card. He knew that that man would need a lawyer very soon. Peace.