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The honest count of the casualties

Stories and News No. 1250

Once upon a time there was the casualties’ count. The right one, which grows out of all proportion with the passage of time, thanks to the good will of a few, even just one, and thanks to an innate predisposition to imagine the lives of others, there, where the conscience burns most. Therefore, let's start from afar, so that the final figure is as respectful as possible of what really or tacitly happened. May, 1981. Bobby Sands dies after two months of hunger strike and reggae legend Bob Marley disappears; John Paul II was seriously injured in an attack on St. Peter's Square and Donna Payant achieved the sad record as the first prison officer of the United States killed on duty. In short, other victims, fortunately survivors of death or died in the guise of martyrs, destined to become a legend or a simple anecdote for record-breaking. In the same month, same year, Alice Sebold is among the folds of history. Female, eighteen years old, white, Caucasian, would say the grotesque racial profiling of American policemen and it would not be out of place, for various reasons, but above all because it is exactly in the United States that we are. Precisely we are in Syracuse, in the State of New York, near the university campus. It is the eighth of May, early in the morning. Alice is walking next to the amphitheater when she is attacked and dragged into a tunnel and in the darkness of the latter she is raped. At the age of eighteen, with all her life still on the horizon, after having passed the difficult test of taking care of an alcoholic mother from an early age and having finally taken off towards graduation and her own affirmation, Alice becomes a victim. Like many, more or less told. After reporting the attack to the university security guards and policemen the same day, she confesses that she is unable to recognize her cowardly brute. Five months pass. Five cursed months, for anyone who is in some way linked to them, between pain and panic, anguish and anger, and who knows what else, because only those who have crossed such horrendous paths are actually able to enumerate every nuance of feeling. At the end of the latter, in the meantime Alice is trying to piece together the fragments of the shocked puzzle that was her life, when she walks once again near the campus and runs into Anthony Broadwater. But you also imagine – according to the same aberrant script, male, black, twenty-one years old. The young man is black, I repeat; he is a soldier, a black soldier; a marine, black, on temporary leave, forced to return home because his father is very ill; but more than anything else, as black, he is about to see his existence just as irreversibly upset. In fact, Alice recognizes him. That is, she recognizes what they taught her, as they still do today all over the world: he is black and he is my executioner, my enemy, the subject made object of hatred and revenge, regardless of any level of truth. Anthony is arrested and together with four other blacks – guilty of simply being such and that is enough, is gathered in a room. In another, divided from the latter by a one-way mirror, as much as institutional racism is, there is the same girl and the diligent police forces. Alice is about to decide on the life of a random black among the many, but she is doubtful. But there was talk of institutional above, right? Well, the deputy prosecutor will take care of making sure that “the machine crushing hopes, dreams and futures considered superfluous” complete its cruel work: you are not mistaken, it's him, Anthony is the blackest black of all, on skin as much as heart, because the guy at his side is a friend of his and forced him to come along in order to confuse you. Alice is now convinced and takes the weight off her chest. That ballast is transformed and becomes the unbearable ball and chain that from that moment will plunge the boy into a terrifying nightmare. You're a black and a rapist too, Anthony, and this jury convicts you of both crimes. Perhaps the aggravating circumstance is due to the worst of all: Anthony is innocent, you know? Nobody be surprised, please. In other words, here is the second victim of this sad story. However, from the day of the iniquitous sentence, the paths of the two take different directions. Moreover, as it was written there at the beginning of the reciprocal, institutional, screenplays. Alice, after graduating from Syracuse, devotes herself to her passion, that is literature, and in 1999 her first book, Lucky, comes to light, a tale of memories of her life and above all of the violence suffered. Lucky, title as bitter as it is meaningful, because that was exactly what a policeman told her the day of the report: you was lucky, miss, because you’re still alive. The book achieves excellent critical and sales results, and Alice's career begins. Three years later, her most famous story is published, namely Lovely Bones, from which came a well-known film, while in 2007 her third work, The almost moon, was released. Meanwhile, in the hell where Anthony has ended up, the road is far from studded with successes. After a tearing sequence of farce trials to say the least, in 1983 he was definitively locked up in a maximum security prison. Black, twenty-three, innocent prisoner among the inmates, guilty or not, but in the guise of a rapist, or with the specter of becoming the target of all criminals. Because if you cheat, rob or even kill, you belong to a category worthy of respect that rapists are denied. And that throws them at the bottom of the food chain of every prison in the world, better positioned only than pedophiles. After sixteen years in a cell among tortures, after having been denied parole five times - because the prisoner insists on declaring himself innocent, in the same year in which Alice's career is blossoming, moreover with a book that also talks about him, Anthony is finally released from prison. Nonetheless, hell is not over yet, because he is now free, but he is still black; a thirty-nine black man; a black ex-convict; a black man who after sixteen years embraces the only person in the world who has always believed him, because his father is long dead: his wife. Above all, a black ex-convict and unemployed who will hardly find a job for all these reasons and because his name has been put in the register of Sex Offenders. Given that the differences in the respective existences of the two are quite evident and it is redundant to underline them, so we come to the present day. It is 2019, we are in the era of Me Too and Alice's first book is trendy again. For reasons that are often laudable, the producers are looking for true stories on the subject and the rights are bought: Lucky will become a film. Now everyone will know Alice's story and everyone will know the truth. It doesn't always happen, but this time it really did. Because one of the producers of the film became passionate about the real story within the plot. In particular, to Anthony's life and he noticed the inconsistencies where no one had previously had the courage to look. He has hired an investigation agency and after two years of research and court cases, justice is finally made. Anthony is now innocent because he was too before. And, at the same time, forty years later, suddenly everyone knows that there were two victims. However, if you wish to make justice in every possible way, at least towards the real count, it is necessary to begin to face the fact that buried in the darkness of a tunnel or in any ravine of our society, because they are black and innocent, the victims infinitely more...

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