by Michael L. McCray
Whether it was racism, alcohol, meanness, stupidity, pride, or some other reason of the moment, Armando Farago is dead, his bride a widow, two are stabbed, and Anthony Mitchell is serving 15 years to life in prison.
There is a point in the story where Anthony Mitchell and his accusers agree: he was panhandling in the establishment and was asked to leave. He refused to leave.
Prosecutors claim a conflict arose, and he fled. He was chased by a group who were beating him, arrested, and then arrived at the hospital with a broken leg. The murder weapon, a knife, was found the next day without Mitchell’s fingerprints on it.
A witness testified that Mitchell was making a stabbing motion. Mitchell claimed he was trying to ward his attackers off with a screwdriver and had no knife.
Mitchell's lawyer stated the judge would not allow him to file a charge of self-defense.
The prosecutors had 19 witnesses to testify against him, while Mitchell was his only witness.
Assistant County Prosecutor Edward Walsh stated the whole thing could have been avoided if Mitchell had just left. He said some panhandlers can be “very aggressive.” Walsh also speculated that the jury panel might have believed Mitchell’s claim that one of the men, Marcello Cetra, “was somewhat aggressive.”
Hunger and alcohol can make men aggressive and make them do stupid things. Many complain about the panhandling in the flats, however, they sanction the larger alcohol problem because it makes money.
Most violent crimes have some involvement with drug or alcohol abuse.
It is doubtful that justice cares much for people like Anthony Mitchell. The poor make easy targets in situations like this regardless of their guilt or innocence. They are handicapped from the beginning. Those who can afford the flats have much more freedom to be obnoxious than any panhandler can expect.
No one should be permitted to take another human life, nor injure another because of racism, alcohol, meanness, stupidity, pride, or any other reason of the moment. But what's more, economics should never play a role when making decisions of justice.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published June 1996-July 1996 Issue 16