Nixzamary’s Law

Today has been very, very long. Up at 5:45 a.m., I skipped the shower in favor of catching the 5 to the 1 to the Q to Brighton Beach, where I took my long-awaited first step into P.S. 253, the Ezra Jack Keats Magnet School. I wish I had the time or the energy to describe it now, but since I don’t, suffice it to say EJK was everything I hoped for and more, and I am confident a very, very good story can come from there. And also fruit roll-ups

But before the meeting was even over, it was out the door again, this time on the B and then the R back to Jay St. I rushed up to Part 15 (those of you familiar with Cali courts, think Department),  where the honorable Judge DiMango and her enormous gold hoops and her kelly green tank-top preside.  She has the kind of obvious highlights and make-up that make her look young from a distance and beat up close. I know because she came down from the bench to check out the MoMA-worthy court sketches (pastels on cardboard, if you’re interested).

Which is not, of course, the real news. Nixzaliz Santiago, the mother of Nixzamary Brown (who was beaten to death by her step-father Cesaer Rodriguez in January of 2006), is on trial for criminal negligence et all, and could face life in prison. You can read all about it in the Post.

What bothered me about the whole proceeding was not the story, which is so old there’s actually legislation based on it. Effective legislation. No, two things keep nagging at me:

On the elevator up to court, I found myself surrounded by Hasids. Weird enough, but when I found part 15, it turns out they were still hearing the case of one of Brooklyn’s Hasidic figureheads, a man who pleaded out after sexually abusing two children in the most gruesome of  fashions, and was no pleading before the judge to spend the High Holy Days with his family. I find his crimes quite literally unspeakable (and if you know me, you know I find almost nothing unspeakable) but what kept playing back in my head was the thought that, no matter how unspeakable I may find his act, G-d compels us to forgive him, and forgive him like, next week. I can’t, and I’m sure the family he victimized can’t either, but even if they don’t, G-d will, and  that sort of bothers the shit out of me in a way I never bothered to consider before.

And then there are the matter of the screens.

These are screens expressly for projecting totally horrifying shit. Like the emaciated body of a little girl thrown half-naked to the floor and left there. Like a close-up of her battered right eye, or her badly lacerated lower lip. Like the tiny pair of red sweat pants, tossed around by the defense in court, that had to be folded over to stay up over her jutting hips.

It’s hard to swallow. But maybe that’s New York.

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