Friday, December 02, 2005

Coffee Plantation Assault - Update

This letter was in Monday's Key West Citizen. The girl who was arrested for the assault on Diane and Theo had her day in court on Tuesday. She was ordered to pay restitution for the Glorie's medical expenses following the attack, and is obligated to attend an "anger management" course. She will be on probation for a period of time.

After the hearing, on her way out of the courtroom, the girl walked past Diane and said hatefully, loud enough for those in the courtroom, including the judge, to hear, "you're a racist". The judge ordered her back to the bench and said to her, "How can I expect you to behave outside of my courtroom if you can't even behave properly in here."

The racism, it seems to me, is in the other direction. It's obvious to me that the girl and many of the others who took part in the original assault regard many of the patrons who frequent the Coffee Plantation as some kind of enemy, not for what they do, for they do nothing against the "children", but that the color their skin is different. That is racism, pure and simple.

The harassment of the Glorie's continues on a daily basis. The students, including the girl who had just been in court, gather in the yard, move in closer, glare at patrons and the Glories themselves, sit on the coffee shop's furniture on the porch, and then spit on the floor of the porch while walking past the doors. It is intimidation, and it's working. Diane was trembling in a combination of fear and anger when I arrived yesterday. The mob -- and it is that -- was still there. I could feel their hostility on my short walk from the bike rack to enter the shop. It goes on despite the presence that day of a uniformed police officer sitting on the porch steps the entire time until the bus arrived. Even as the bus pulled away down Whitehead St, taunting calls to the policeman could be heard.

Afterwards, Diane spoke to the officer and told him (he's new to the scene) about the ongoing problems they've been having. He tried to be sympathetic, or so it seemed, but told her that the department was "busy" and she couldn't expect there to be an officer present at all times. "Could they ask for a no-trespass order?", I inquired. He said yes, they could, but that would more likely inflame the situation than do anything to resolve it.

The Coffee Plantation will be moving to Caroline St. in less than ten days. Theo and Diane will be relieved somewhat, but the mob will remain and the entire Bahama Market will then become their province, as it is now at night, after the Plantation closes. Drug use and drug selling, vandalism, harassment of strangers, they are all part of the repertoire of the 'gangstas'

Is there any one in this community, parents in particular, who holds any sway over these thugs?

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