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George Pollock

State Kid
Issue 45
Going to Where They Live

At City Hall, Mayor Harper and Police Chief Bronson, along with their top aides,
monitored the proceedings at Granite City School -- on a Sunday.
At first, they had watched calmly, though with puzzlement, as Billy Stone introduced the
panel and led a round of applause for them. They were okay with the proceedings even as
the well-dressed student moderator launched into his presentation. To their surprise, they
found everything polite, intelligent and tasteful. It was definitely something that could be
sold as enlightened incarceration.
But when Mrs. de Cruz came on and Officers Collins and Lee were searched, arrested,
and led away, the two civic leaders stared disbelieving at the TV -- and underwent a
seismic mood change. Into this scene of dropped jaws and soaring blood pressures, two
unlucky East Side volunteers arrived to deliver envelopes of evidence. They were
promptly detained and grilled by detectives.
Chief Bronson put in a call to Granite City School.
“Chief Bronson. Hi,” Vera said, answering the phone. She knew the chief well. “Vera
O'Toole here. I'm helping out. Wasn't that wicked what Collins and Lee were doing?”
“Yes, very. May I speak with your Dad?”
“Sure, he's right here.”
Captain O'Toole took the phone. “Yes, Chief.”
The captain listened for a long time, grimacing and giving one-word replies. “Yes... Yes
... No ... Yes ... No ... No.”
Finally, as cold as Vera had ever heard him speak, he said, “Chief, I must request that
order in writing. Also, without a written order from you to the contrary, I'm filing formal
charges against Officer Collins and Officer Lee on the basis of the evidence presented.
I'm placing Joy Stojak under protective custody and I'm taking her father into custody on
the basis of her signed and witnessed complaint which you should have. Is there anything
else, Chief?”
Captain O'Toole held up the phone. “He hung up.”
“What did he tell you to do?”
“Never mind. It's my problem.”
“Dad, it's my problem, too.”
Captain O'Toole gave his daughter a father's disapproving look.
“Why do you always clam up? You never share anything with me. That's why I ran, Dad.
When are you going to figure that out?”
Vera turned to leave.
“Wait.”
She stopped.
“The chief ... he ... he ...”
“Do it, Dad. Just talk to me.”
“He ordered Captain Morrill and me to take the school.”
“He's crazy!”
“If we don't do it, we're relieved from duty.”
“Good. He can take the job and stick it! He just wants to start shooting. He's wrong,
Dad... and you know it!”
Vera went straight to Billy with the news of the order, while Captain O'Toole and Captain
Morrill huddled.
“Bronson can issue an order,” Billy said, “but he can't execute it -- and neither can your
Dad or Captain Morrill.”
“Why not?”
“I don't think they're willing to harm innocents.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I'm not. But at this point, I'm more worried about the higher-ups. They have more to lose
and, I think, more to hide. They are more likely to go to extremes -- such as the National
Guard. We have to calm their fears. So the message I'm sending them is this: We have our
bad guys. We're not going any higher. We won't tell the Feds what we know -- so long as
we get what we want.”
“You've got it all figured out, haven't you?”
“That's the one good thing about Seg, Vera. It makes you think.”
“What now?”
“They talk. I act. They get weaker. I get stronger. At some point, our interests will meet.
Just call me an optimist, Vera.”
“I'm afraid, Billy.”
“So am I. We're in the final, most dangerous, phase -- going to where they live.”
They hugged.
***
Dictrict Attorney John Conroy had also watched Billy Stone on TV after receiving
numerous calls about it. “This is beyond belief,” he said to his wife. “A total outrage.
What in God's name has come over Carson?”
“I agree, dear,” said Mrs. Conroy, a painstakingly coiffed platinum blond with a deep tan.
“But all I can think of is: How could that good-looking, beautifully-dressed, smart, well-
spoken boy be where he is? Are you sure somebody didn't make a big mistake here?”
“Obviously, someone did make a mistake. But the question now is how to fix things
without destroying the District Attorney's office, the police department, the juvenile
justice system, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Corrections.”
“Not to mention some politicians we know.”

“They're already jumping on the kid's bandwagon. Waters is on TV with a smile pasted
on his face and giving interviews about truth and justice. It's enough to make me puke.”
“Dear, a politician's vehicle of choice is the bandwagon, you know.”
“I can just imagine what Waters and Richardson are cooking up.”
“Scapegoat steaks? Bloody raw?”
“This is serious. Do you mind?”
“I do mind, dear. We have guests for lunch. I don't want my husband upset over
absolutely nothing. What difference does it make if the kid gets out or doesn't get out?
The only reason it matters is because it's on TV.”
“You know, dear, in a perverse way, you're absolutely right. Without TV, without the
press, we'd have no problem. But it's more than the TV. It's this particular kid. He knows
what he's doing. He understands politics. He understands the power of images. The suit,
the white shirts and ties, the fake objectivity, the soft-spokenness, the staged melodrama.
It's all calculated to narrow our options to one.”
“Setting him free.”
“Yes. He's clever. He knows that if he looks and acts like a criminal, we can just go in
and take him and no one would have a problem with it. So what does he do? He puts on a
suit. He's polite, cooperative, unthreatening, reasonable, full of respect for the law. For
Chrissakes he's even throwing statutes and procedures at us. On top of that, he comes
across as likeable. I even like the kid, for God's sake. If I do, everybody out there in TV
land will, too. He's built a public-relations fortress around himself. However, my dear, for
every defense there is an offense.”
“I'm sure you'll find it, honey.”
“It's not going to be easy.”
“Why?”
“Three things. First, he's betting everything. He knows we won't, because we don't have
to. This gives him a psychological advantage.”
“And?”
“He's not afraid of us. He thinks he's as smart and as tough as we are.”
“To tell the truth, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if he were. Oops. I didn't mean that, dear.
And the third?”
“He believes he can win. You never want to be up against someone who believes he can
win.”
“A kid couldn't actually do that ... or could he?”
“Nah. He surprised us a little, that's all. You know the little twerp is putting the word out
that we have nothing to fear from him. Imagine that?”
“Does he know something?”
“Nah. He's finished -- he just doesn't know it yet."
***
Like everybody else, the Chief Juvenile Judge, Joyce Salera, had seen Billy's direct TV
appeal for her to set Emiliano Cervantes, himself and the others free -- and she felt under
siege: reporters calling for comment; photographers taking pictures of her from trees; a
scrum of press camped outside her home; reporters with faces pressed against her
window panes.
She practically became a prisoner in her West Side home. To get away from the press and
the Billy Stone case, she made a dash for her car and screeched off. It didn't work. East
Side volunteers caught up with her at her sister's house, where they handed her sister an
envelope of evidence "for the judge." She tried hiding out at an exhibit of a local
photographer's work at Fairview University, but the East Side People's Postal Service put
Joy Stojak's statement right into her hands.
Judge Salera's normal quiet life away from the limelight had dissolved in the glare of
white-hot publicity. She had had many tough cases in her many years as a juvenile judge,
but never one like this. This kid was literally forcing her to review his case, a case that
she had already declined to review, and those of other inmates.
She had declined Billy Stone's case with no one watching, except one insignificant
prisoner. Now, with many eyes on her, it was different, very different. There was
compelling new information that anybody who watched television already knew about.
Her options, it seemed to her, had been narrowed to one: review the evidence.
She did so.
President Colin Etherington of Fairview University had envelopes of evidence thrust into
his hands while he and his wife were hosting a luncheon for new faculty members
coming to campus in September.
Richard McFardle got envelopes while watching his son try out for Little League, leaving
a theater after an early movie with his son, and at his home later in the afternoon.
Governor's Richardson's envelopes reached him at his private residence in Boston, where
volunteers had given them to state police on duty there. The last envelope, delivered to all
by Captain O'Toole's police officers was Joy Stojak's formal charge against her father.
***
District Attorney John Conroy was grilling steaks for guests, a group of lawyers and their
spouses, on the patio of his large colonial-era house set grandly in the best part of the
West Side when the first East Side wreck rattled brazenly past his pair of life-sized stone
lions and down his cobbled driveway.
A Hispanic man got out of the old heap and walked right onto the fieldstone patio and
into the middle of lunch.
“Leave my property immediately before I call the police,” Conroy said.
“I'm sorry, sir. Important evidence for you.”
“This is Sunday, for God's sake. Leave immediately.”
The man approached the lunch table at which the District Attorney's guests were seated,
moved around the salad bowl and bread, and placed the envelope on the table.
“I'll just tell 'em you received it in front of ... let's see ...” He counted. “... eight witnesses.
Have a nice day.”
He left.
But, before long, two more envelopes would arrive at the Conroy residence, the second
one being Joy Stojak's signed and witnessed accusation of her father, hand-delivered by
two of Captain O'Toole's officers, Patrolman Mark Wynette and Patrolman Dave
Mancini. Both had been involved in the search and arrest of Officers Collins and Lee.
Past resistance at this point, Conroy opened the manila envelope and read Joy's statement.
“I'm sorry to disturb you on a Sunday, Mr.Conroy,” Officer Wynette said, “but Captain
O'Toole believes there is clear and present danger here and that we must act quickly. He
has placed the girl under protective custody.”
“Could this be just a scared runaway kid who doesn't know what she's saying?”
“I don't think so,” Officer Wynette said. “The statement was witnessed by four credible
people, one of them Congressman Waters. Captain O'Toole said he would fill you in
later.”
“What is going on at that school, anyway? That's all there is on TV. I mean, there's this
inmate dressed in a fancy suit and putting on educated airs and running a freewheeling
inquisition while the Director of the school and all the others, even a Congressman, sit
there like somebody has a gun to their heads. Will somebody please tell me, who is
running that school, us or the inmates?”
“I don't know, I'm impressed with the kid,” a guest lawyer said. “He's smart. He's
articulate. He's got the press eating out of his hand. I want the name of his tailor.”
“Yes, but why is he allowed to do it?” said a second lawyer. “Why would Carson let it go
so far? Why would he let it go to the point of humiliating the police department on TV?
Why would he let the media in anyway? I mean, from the looks of it, he just let people
walk in from the street -- what's with that? This is supposed to be a secure facility for
dangerous young criminals, and I assume that would include Mr. Billy Stone.”
“I've never seen anything like it,”a third lawyer said. “Carson sits there as if he's afraid
somebody's going to blow his head off if he opens his mouth and says the wrong thing.
Then the next time you look, he's up there mugging for the cameras, smiling and waving
like he's running for Governor. It doesn't add up. I can't think of any reason why Carson
would voluntarily take part in this circus.”
Looking at Officer Wynette, Conroy said, “You've been there. What do you think?”
“Well, sir, it seems to me that ... ”
“Yes, go on,” said Conroy.
“It seems that ...” Officer Wynette glanced at the lawyers and their spouses waiting for
his response. He looked at his partner who shrugged as if to say, Don't look at me, buddy.
Officer Wynette straightened himself. “Evidence presented at Granite City points to gross
miscarriage of justice. It appears we have locked up some innocent kids because of
official misconduct by, I'm sorry to say, police officers.”
“Well,” said Conroy.
“Do you think Billy Stone should be released?” asked one of the lawyers.
“Yes, it looks that way to me. Now, for your information, we are proceeding from here to
apprehend the father on charges of criminal assault and rape. Captain O'Toole asks that
you call him if you have any questions about this decision.”
“Do we have a choice, Officer?”
“No, sir. I believe not. The girl is clearly in danger.”
“You admire Captain O'Toole, don't you, Officer Wynette?”
“He's doing his duty.”
“As you will do yours.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Captain O'Toole is probably not too popular in the department right now. ”
Both officers nodded.
“You two are probably not too popular, either. Am I right?”
They nodded again.
“Well, we're lucky to have officers like Captain O'Toole and you two. Tell Captain
O'Toole ... tell the captain ... tell him good work. Good afternoon, gentlemen. ”

Within minutes, Conroy was on the phone with attorneys in his office... Judge Salera...
Mayor Harper... Police Chief Bronson... Congressman Waters... aides to Governor
Richardson... and Governor Richardson himself.
Given their failure to act thus far, Captain O'Toole and Captain Morrill had been elbowed
out of the decision-making process.
With Congressman Waters paving the way with the Feds, Governor Richardson ordered
the state National Guard to get ready to move out.