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The Militant, 7 September 1946

Mille Fredreci

Working Mother Writes of Day in N.Y. Court

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 36, 7 September 1946, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Several dozen colored working men and an equal number of whites were brought up before the presiding Magistrate in separate groups charged with lying on newspapers in Central Park and falling asleep on benches. Evidently they had abandoned their over-heated, vermin-ridden “rooms” for the company of crickets and a bed of green grass with the stars for a roof.

None of them was represented by counsel, but when asked if they had anything to say in their own defense, several spoke up indignantly against their detention. The Magistrate listened in bored silence.

“Have they been, finger-printed?”

“Yes, your honor.”

Meticulously keeping a Jim Crow pattern, his Honor lectured each group separately and suspended sentence.

I watched my landlord take a seat up front as he impatiently dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief. He is medium height with heavy jowls, a double chin and two stomachs. This is not due to a glandular condition but to greediness.

The court attendant called my case, a complaint against the landlord for refusing to repair my roof. I walked promptly up to the ban in the hope of getting some of the justice and democracy and four freedoms we heard about. To my great anger, it was all over in a few seconds. The landlord and his attorney had the case fixed up in advance. Like the fox with his jackal they assured the Magistrate that although the roof had been in disrepair, they hadn’t had time to fix it; but at that very moment the roofers were working on the leak. Furthermore, the complaint was improperly drawn up, because section so and so, of the penal code did not apply to this case at all, etc., etc., etc.

I opened my mouth to tell my story.

“The complaint is dismissed,” said the landlord judge banging his gavel for emphasis. The court attendant called the next case.

I returned home that evening from work and learned that the roofer had not been there.

I phoned the Tenement House Department to inquire why they hadn’t come to investigate, as they promised. They were waiting for it to rain so they could actually see the rain pouring in.

“It has rained three or four times since I made my complaint,” I said.

“We’ll be there when it rains the next time.”

Maybe they’re waiting for the flood.

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