I knew Monday was going to be a busy day, but I could never have predicted the actual events. It has been unexpected, but delightful. What I knew was that I had made a commitment to be present at the beginning of the trial of five of my coconspirators, the five who were arrested during one of our coal-train stopping protests, more than two years ago. Their jury trial was to begin today in Concord, NH, at the Superior Court and last at least through Wednesday, possibly Thursday. The plan was for supporters, like me, to gather outside the courthouse at about 8:15 am, for our reunion, a little mutual admiration, and some direction from our coordinators, before entering the courtroom or gathering at a location three blocks away, in a conference room for overflow. The direction to us included the strict advice to not engage in any conversation with the jurors, who would be clearly labeled with badges. Planned overflow was because the courtroom is under Covid guidelines, with strict guidance for numbers present.
As previously for the many hearings we’ve endured and enjoyed, nearly all of us were dressed with some shade of red, our leaders easily identified with red masks. Just in case you’re reading this in the future, these are Covid-required masks, not robbing-a-bank masks.
Many of us who gathered at 8:15 came with snacks to be shared. My busy weekend had included a trip to the grocery store for oranges, rice cakes, dried apricots, and bottled green teas. My day today began with my alarm at 6 am, a shower, dressing in red, in the car before 7, a MacDonald’s breakfast, and arrival at the Concord courthouse by 8:15. I was among the first to be there and quickly found Sue, the organizer of snacks. By 9 am, we were about 30, when the defendants arrived, to much jubilation. Just about then, we learned that the judge had called in sick, so court was canceled for the day.
What?! This had never occurred to me, that a judge could be sick, though, of course, why not? We were told nothing about his illness or the prospects that it would continue into tomorrow or beyond. This was a nuisance, an inconvenience for me, but what about others who had to deal with transportation issues or missing work?
We were invited to the nearby conference room to continue our mingling or to leave, as we wished. I gladly walked to the conference room, for continuing joyful conversation with old friends and new. One of my new friends was Barry, who’d arrived early. It was his first time ever to one of our events; he’d decided that although he had not ever participated, he wanted to, at least by supporting us. What a joy to welcome him and to know that others are still being inspired by concern about our planet and our climate. We walked the three blocks together to the conference room.
After a little more auld lang syne, I walked back to the courthouse to get my car, knowing I needed to charge the battery before returning home. I headed to the closest charger, about six miles away. It was working, but quickly shut off without charging. After a few iterations of that, I called their help number and immediately reached a kind, helpful person. After five minutes, when she was unable to determine the problem or the solution, I thanked her, hung up, and drove five miles to the next charging station, which happened to be at a Whole Foods. Shortly after me, someone else from our courthouse arrived, a guy named Bob, who had been among the 67 arrested with me and had driven today from Vermont.
Here’s where you find out what a hypocrite I am! For me, part of being an activist involves being conscious of how I spend money. As a result, I do not use Amazon, including Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon. At this point, I had only about ten miles left, so choosing another charger location was not feasible. I can easily justify recharging my car. Harder to justify is going into the store and buying a slice of pizza, because it was almost noon, I was hungry, and I was stuck here for half an hour. But I did. The pizza was delicious.
The timing worked out so that I could log on to my writing class and participate during this last class of a ten-week session. Hearing what the others have written reminds me of how much I’ve come to love each of them and their stories!
During my ride home after class ended, I was enchanted by the layers of fluffy, puffy white clouds against the pure blue sky. Tonight I’ll attend a city council meeting, where I’m signed up to read our land acknowledgment statement, identifying the Native American tribal lands on which we meet. Tonight is also the meeting of National Grid with our counselors, for which I want to be present. It’s to be a contentious meeting: National Grid primarily concerned about their profit and we citizens concerned about environmental harm and safety of residents.
Then, tomorrow, if the judge is no longer sick, I’ll come back for the trial. Just another day in the life of an activist.
4 thoughts on “The Judge Called in Sick”
Ah, so now I understand more fully your commitment to Thursday. Thank-you for showing up for us hunger strikers in MHD trying to stop the Peabody peaker. You are a busy activist bee. Honesty, don’t feel bad about the pizza. Purity leads to puritans!
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Ok, I’ll watch out for that purity!
Carole, Keep on “keeping on”. You are doing a great job!
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Thank you, Loretta. Your encouragement helps!