Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (72)

Had I not been desperately in need of money in order to pay my half of the following month's rent for the basement apartment in Jamaica that I was again sharing with Barry in the Fall, there's no way I would have been willing to be interviewed for a "dictaphone-typist" job within Manhattan's court system. But given my desperate economic situation, I felt compelled to let myself be interviewed.

When I reported to the personnel department in Manhattan's Criminal Court building at 100 Centre Street, the elderly white guy, who appeared to be in his early 60's, seemed so glad to find a white guy who typed 80 wpm for the dictaphone-typist position that needed to be filled at the courthouse that, with a smile, he offered me the job on the spot. And, given the fact that, whatever chance I still had to eventually get mailed an unemployment benefit check by New York State would vanish if I now refused Manhattan's Criminal Court dictaphone typist job, I  also felt economically compelled to agree to report for work in the Criminal Court building the following week.

Having demonstrated outside 100 Centre Street in the 1960's during the beginning of the Panther 21 trial, in which a jury eventually found all defendants innocent of the trumped-up "conspiracy" charges on which the New York City cops and the F.B.I. COINTELPRO agents attempted to frame and convict them, I was already somewhat familiar with the 100 Centre Street building. In addition, when I was arrested inside Hamilton Hall in late May of 1968 during the second New York City police invasion of Columbia University's campus (for the purpose of ending the Spring 1968 Columbia Student Revolt against the Columbia administration's policy of institutionally sponsoring Viet Nam war-related Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research, constructing a racially segregated "Jim Crow" gymnasium on public land in Morningside Park and suspending dissident anti-war and anti-racist students for non-violently demonstrating inside Columbia University's buildings), I had actually spent a night inside one of the crowded holding pens at 100 Centre Street; before being brought into one of its courtrooms and released on probation, pending a trial for the "criminal trespassing" charge that was eventually dropped by New York County's "criminal justice system".

But to actually work inside 100 Centre Street as a "dictaphone-typist" for the court system for even a brief time in the 1970's provided me with a slightly different angle to view the scene there.