"All White Jury"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Leon Jackson had defied the odds. He grew up in the ghetto but hard work has payed off and he is now a top surgeon at one New York's top hospitals. One cold winter night Leon Jackson witnesses a cop getting shot. Unfortunately,he looks a lot like the thug that pulled the trigger. Witnesses on the scene tell cops that he's the shooter. Watch how this man's life changes in an instant.....

Submitted: January 17, 2013

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Submitted: January 17, 2013

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Leon Jackson had defied the odds. He was from the harsh streets of the Bronx but he had studied hard and managed to get into a prestigious Ivy League college. He was now a very successful surgeon at one of New York’s top hospitals. People had a very hard time believing he was from such humble beginnings. Leon didn’t sound like a black man when he talked. Often times he would try to deepen his voice because everyone told him that he sounded “white” on the phone. Leon didn’t quite understand what it meant to sound white. Did this mean that he used proper grammar and sounded educated? Mr. Jackson had a hard time adjusting to his all white neighborhood in a very affluent section of Manhattan. His neighbors often stared at him when he would pull up in his very expensive Jaguar. The little white kids in the neighborhood would often ask him if he played pro basketball. Leon stood 5’9 in shoes and he couldn’t dribble a basketball to save his life. He was just a black man who pursued his education and avoided getting involved in the gangs and lifestyle that he had watched so many of his friends succumb to. There was a side of Leon Jackson that had become detached from his inner city roots. He would go back to the projects to visit a few family members, but he would always make sure he locked his car doors and even pay one of the neighborhood kids $50 to watch his car. “I just don’t understand what made you go and marry a white woman”, his mom said. “Maria is Italian”, he replied. “We’ll she certainly is not black and I raised you better than that”, she said. Margaret Jackson was old school. She wasn’t a huge fan of interracial dating and marriage. Her son was a very successful black man and she wanted to see him marry a beautiful black woman. Unfortunately for Leon Jackson most black women didn’t think he was “thug” enough. Leon graduated from Harvard and most of his colleagues and friends were white. The “brothers” in his old neighborhood were definitely proud of him but the word “sellout” came up in a few conversations about Leon Jackson at a few of the local barbershops and hair salons. Leon Jackson was always different. When he was in elementary school he was the kid that would sit in the library during recess and read comic books. He wore the big bifocals so the other kids thought he was a bit strange. Leon was always a smart kid and that made him the target of a lot of bullying and teasing from the other kids. They would try to make him do there homework or give them the answers to any upcoming test Now Leon Jackson was all grown up. Some of those same kids that teased him in elementary school could now be seen standing on the corner of the neighborhood liquor store. One of these men was Ronnie Brown. Ronnie Brown was the true definition of a criminal. He had a wrap sheet that could stretch from New York to Miami a few times over. Every time he would see Leon Jackson he would try to ask for money or a ride to some chick’s house. “Oh so you too good for a nigga now”, Ronnie would say. This was a 32 year old man that wore a du- rag and had more tattoos than Tupac Shakur. The weird thing is everyone would always say that Leon Jackson and Ronnie Brown could pass for brothers. They actually resembled each other. On one very cold night in October Leon Jackson’s life would be changed forever. As Leon Jackson exited a supermarket in the Bronx he noticed a African American man arguing with a police officer. This man was Ronnie Brown. Leon watched as the officer tried to restrain Ronnie Brown but before long several gunshots rang out and a NYPD officer laid lifeless in a pool of blood. Leon rushed to the scene and immediately called 911. Leon Jackson had just come from his mother’s house. He wasn’t dressed in a Armani suit. He had on a Harvard sweat shirt and a pair of faded jeans. He had actually been helping his mother do some painting around the house. As police officers arrived on the scene a huge crowd started to gather around. Police questioned witnesses and Leon Jackson told officers exactly what he had seen. “That’s the man that shot officer Benson”, a voice yelled out. “I saw the whole thing!”. Leon Jackson was speechless as a very elderly white man tried to identify him as the shooter. Leon Jackson could not believe what he was hearing. He watched a law enforcement officer get gunned down and he did the right thing. He immediately notified the authorities. Now several witnesses were implying to detectives and officers on the scene that he looked like the man that pulled the trigger. The scene was quite chaotic as news media and crowds gathered in front of The Village Grocery. Detectives interrogated Leon Jackson as witnesses were more than happy to give there account of what had transpired. A dead cop laid covered up on the ground and this homicide investigation was definitely intensifying by the moment. “So where exactly were you when you heard the gunshots?”, detective Mark Riley asked. Leon Jackson felt that he was already being treated as the number one suspect. He had already answered this very same question four times and it seemed as if the detectives were trying to cause him to stumble or confess something. A simple trip to visit his mother in the Bronx had now turned into a nightmare for this man. Leon Jackson was a model citizen. He drove the speed limit. He paid his taxes. He did everything right. At 8:22 pm on this cold winter night in the Bronx, none of that mattered. What mattered was that a very decorated police officer had been killed in a very high crime area. This was an area that Leon Jackson had always tried to avoid at all cost. His mother still lived here though. She loved the Bronx. She declined her son’s invitation to relocate to a better neighborhood and rub elbows with the “well to do”. Tonight this would cost him dearly. Leon was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and the actual shooter was no where to be found. Ronnie Brown had done the shooting. Leon Jackson saw the entire thing. Ronnie Brown was now in the projects bragging to his homeys that he had just shot a “pig”. Unfortunately Leon Jackson was being handcuffed and read his Miranda Rights. He was now being placed in the back of a NYPD squad car. News photographers snapped pictures as a very astonished Leon Jackson sat in the back of this squad car like a caged animal. What had just happened? Leon Jackson had tried all his life to escape the poverty stricken and violent environment that he was born in. He remembered his late grandmother telling him that education was his only escape from the clutches of the ghetto. Leon had listened. He avoided guys like Ronnie Brown like the plague. While most of the guys in his neighborhood were becoming “Crips” or “Bloods”, Leon Jackson was hitting the books and applying to colleges. He traveled abroad for a year after graduating high school. Leon Jackson hated the fact that he was born in the Bronx. He hated the graffiti that was tagged throughout his neighborhood. He hated the police sirens that would keep him awake at night as he tried to fall asleep. Leon would cover his ears and imagine that he lived with a rich white family in Manhattan. So many thoughts raced through his mind as he sat handcuffed in the back of that squad car. He was now no where near the very posh white suburb that he lived in with his stunning Italian wife Maria. At this very moment Leon had a moment to reflect. He was just a black man. It didn’t matter that he owned a million dollar home in Carnegie Hill. It didn’t matter that his name had the letters “MD” after it. Sure he was a successful black surgeon who had graduated with honors from Harvard, but none of that mattered now. Tonight Leon Jackson was just another “nigga”. He was a black man who happened to be at a murder scene and several people identified him as the man that pulled the trigger. Leon Jackson now sat in a small room surrounded by three detectives. They wanted a confession. They wanted Leon Jackson to admit to the murder of officer Steve Benson. Steve Benson was a twenty seven year old rookie cop who was very loved in the neighborhood. This white kid had heart. He had graduated at the top of his class from the police academy and he loved fighting crime on the streets of the Bronx. One would think this  white guy from Boise Idaho would hate patrolling a neighborhood that boasted one of the highest crime rates in all of New York City, but not Steve Benson. His father was also a decorated NYPD officer who was killed in the line of duty. Now Steve Benson was dead. The neighborhood or city would not sleep until the animal that did this was brought to justice. Phones were ringing off the hook at the District Attorney’s office. This shooting was on the front page of every local paper and the top story on all the local news broadcast. “I’m not answering anymore questions without my attorney present”, Leon exclaimed. Peter Lundquist, Leon Jackson’s attorney was en route. Detectives stared Mr. Jackson down like he had already been tried and convicted. Leon Jackson was sweating profusely in this very small room with no ventilation. There was a small fan on the desk but the officers didn’t bother to turn it on. They wanted Leon Jackson to sweat. They wanted a confession. Peter Lundquist arrived and made his way to the room where his client was being interrogated. Mr. Jackson had no criminal history. In a matter of minutes he would be released on his own recognizance. NYPD couldn’t hold Leon Jackson. The only evidence that they had gathered was a few eye witness accounts. Peter Lundquist was one of New York’s best criminal defense attorneys and he had managed to temporarily free his client. “You understand that you are not allowed to leave the state”, detective Richard Thomas said. “My client fully understands”, Peter replied. “I didn’t do it Peter”, Leon replied, as the two men exited the downtown precinct and were immediately greeted by Leon Jackson’s wife Maria and his mother Margaret. “I told you to stay out of the ghetto”, Maria screamed. “Excuse me, what did you say?”, Margaret Jackson angrily replied. “My son was raised in the Bronx and he had better not forget that”. “That’s why he’s now a murder suspect”, Maria responded. The two women went back and forth as Leon Jackson shook hands with his attorney. News media was everywhere. “Mr. Jackson did you kill officer Benson?”, a reporter yelled. A very exhausted Leon Jackson got into the passenger seat of his Jaguar which Maria had just picked up from the tow yard. “My son aint no cop killer”, Margaret Jackson said from the backseat. “I didn’t kill anyone”, Leon replied. Margaret Jackson knew her son very well. She knew he would never shoot a police officer. Maria was not so convinced. She remained very quiet as Leon Jackson explained to his mother that he watched Ronnie Brown cold bloodedly kill that cop on that night. “We’ll they always said you looked like that hoodlum,” his mother replied. Normally this would’ve sounded hilarious, but Leon Jackson was in no laughing mood. He was the prime suspect in a very high profile homicide investigation. After dropping his mother off, Leon and his wife didn’t say much. “So what are you going to do?”, Maria asked. Leon was detecting a serious hostility in his wife’s voice. Maria Jackson, formerly Maria Patelli, was very high maintenance. She had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Leon Jackson met her while he was a intern in med school. She was a medical secretary who came from a very prominent Italian family. Leon Jackson was her meal ticket. She knew that he wasn’t the typical black man. Maria would constantly say that Leon was a white man trapped in a black man’s body. Maria had now become the “stay at home” wife she had always dreamed of becoming. No more breaking her press on nails while typing away on those keyboards. She shopped all day and paid her girlfriends house calls. These women were also married to either doctors or wealthy executives. “Don’t worry about it”. “Peter will take care of everything”, Leon said. Maria looked at her husband as if she was ready to walk out on him. He had given this woman a lifestyle that most women could only dream of. Now she acted as if she was ready to jump ship. The next few days for Leon Jackson would be unbelievable. Roosevelt Hospital had decided to let Leon go. “We don’t need this kind of publicity”, administrator Frank Jergenson said. “What are we going to do Leon?”, Maria asked. Things were not looking good for Leon Jackson. The neighbors avoided eye contact with him when he would go outside to get the newspaper in the morning. His life had certainly changed. Leon Jackson was finally getting a taste of what it felt like to be a black man in America. Before the shooting, he had managed to elude some of the stereotypes that so many black men faced. People didn’t see him as just a black man. When people looked at Leon Jackson they saw a successful surgeon with a gorgeous Italian wife. Kids in the neighborhood admired him because he drove a fancy car and had the biggest house on the block. Now he was just a black man from the Bronx who was unemployed and watching his world crumble around him. As Leon Jackson flipped through the pages of the “job classifieds” he heard the sound of doors slamming upstairs. “Where are you going?”, he asked. His beautiful Italian starlet was packing her bags. “I’m going to my mother’s for awhile”, Maria answered. “Woman you aint going no where!” Leon demanded. “Just watch me”, Maria insisted, as she almost trampled her husband on her way out the door. He watched as she pulled off in her red sport utility truck. This was the very same one that he had surprised her with last Christmas. Leon Jackson was an innocent man but he was definitely not a “snitch”. He had never mentioned Ronnie Brown’s name to the authorities but he was suddenly having a change of heart. What was he to do? If he kept quiet he could be looking at a lifetime behind bars for the murder of New York’s “golden boy” cop. If he snitched, then Ronnie Brown and his goons would probably gun him down like a wild animal. There was an “unwritten” code of ethics in the streets that stated that “snitching” is strictly prohibited under any circumstance. Leon Jackson had seen a few die for snitching. He remembered the images of a man gunned down in front of his building when he was a kid. The gunman repeatedly unloaded rounds into this guy as he yelled “That’s what you get for snitching”. Leon Jackson remembered his mother telling him “Nobody likes a tattle tail”. Although Leon Jackson felt as though he had pretty much hit rock bottom, he was starting to take a closer look at himself. Leon Jackson had been pretty much ostracized by everyone he grew up with. He had tried so hard to escape being a black man that he didn’t even recognize the man that stood before him in the mirror. If he were tried today by a jury of his peers they would definitely be all white. Leon Jackson secretly hated the fact that he was born a poor black man in the inner city. He never admitted this. He hated it. As a kid he would fantasize about belonging to a rich white family and now that he was a grown man he had no real identity. The woman that he married only cared about his bank account. Her love was a conditional love. When he was shopping and getting manicures, Leon Jackson was the man of her dreams. Now that Leon Jackson was facing some very uncertain times, she was gone. Leon Jackson called a few of the guys that he played golf with but his calls went to voicemail. The true and very sad fact of the matter was that Leon Jackson didn’t have any true friends. Standing I the mirror for a few minutes was a true moment of clarity and reflection for Leon Jackson…  

 


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