It wasn’t long before the grounds of the former Women’s Health Building became a seething mass of humanity. The code 999 which was almost never used was a signal for a homeland security emergency. Cars with flashing lights littered the area from every agency that could get a presence there. The media monitored police bands, and of course every station had to get there first to break the story. By now the weather had cleared although the sky remained overcast. Anchorpersons with their perfect hair and perfect makeup gestured dramatically into the cameras communicating with their national network affiliates. Large boxlike trucks with high antennas dotted the packed grounds like awkward remote control toys among scattered matchbox cars.
The reporter waited for the red light and launched into her spiel. “Yes, we are reporting live from the scene of this morning’s horrendous explosion,” the reporter intoned ominously, her black-lined eyes widening with her presentation. “For those just joining us, shades of the infamous Kansas City bombing have recurred here in this small peaceful southern town. As you can see behind me, the Women’s Health Center has been completely destroyed in a deliberate terrorist attack.”
Meanwhile, the warrior was having problems of his own. He had been praying in the rain early in the morning when somebody asked him to move. As he was getting ready to respond, all hell broke loose and he found himself quickly cuffed and stuffed into the back of a patrol car with no opportunity to ask what happened or why he was arrested. He watched the commotion from inside the vehicle, with officers in different uniforms discussing the matter.
“We’ll take it from here,” said one of the men with the bold white letters “ATF” on his jacket. They had arrived late to the party and were assembled with men from various county and state agencies. Most of the local police were kept busy with the media, who kept encroaching over the yellow crime scene tape, shoving their lights and cameras and asking questions at anyone they could get to.
“The hell you will,” the captain from the state police replied sternly. As they began to debate who would take custody of the suspect, their attention was diverted by a long, black gleaming ATV which pulled up, blue lights flashing from the grill. Two men with dark suits and no sense of humor got out and flashed their ID’s. The captain sighed and rubbed his forehead, squinting, while the others there displayed various levels of displeasure.
It was decided that the warrior would be taken by the FBI for debriefing and interrogation. As the original patrol car was now helplessly surrounded by other vehicles, he was removed to be placed in another vehicle which could make the trip unobstructed. When the officers moved him, the collected media saw the handcuffed warrior and went absolutely nuts.
“Did you destroy the Women’s Health Building?”
“How does it feel to be a terrorist?”
“What did you do this morning? Don’t you want a chance to tell the public your side?”
The warrior ignored the catcalls and attempts to get a reaction. The circus continued after he was driven away. “Officer, that station over there is past the tape- how does that make you feel?”
The small convoy arrived at the courthouse building. The warrior was led directly into the main courtroom where a contingent of smartly dressed professionals waited. He recognized the positions of judge and court reporter. The uniformed man must be the bailiff. A young, gangly man in a suit stood next to him at one side of the courtroom. On the other side was a pair of older gentlemen who whispered quietly as they arranged some papers in front of them. All remained standing until the judge sat down.
The judge settled himself in his chair and addressed the court, directing his attention to the defendant. “You are charged with the crime of domestic terrorism, as well as the crime of depriving women of their reproductive rights, which are the highest of crimes in the list of laws you have broken.” He waved a two page list of printed charges in the air before placing them back on his desk. How do you plead?”
The warrior blinked, confused. The young man next to him whispered “Innocent.” Did the judge just pronounce him guilty before the trial had even started? Why was the trial happening now? Something was just… wrong. It was all becoming very surreal.
He stood and collected his thoughts, then addressed the judge. “Let me make sure I understand this correctly. I’m being accused of destroying a building when all I did was pray in front of it, and the concern here is for the building and the services it provided, and not for the people who died there?”
The judge exploded in fury. “Order! Order in the court! Order!” He snatched the gavel from its resting place and began hammering. Bang! Bang! Bang! “ORDER!”