Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 2 Waiting for a Verdict in the Noor Salman Trial

I arrived at the Orlando Federal Courthouse bright and early and decided to sketch the TV News cameras set up outside waiting for the verdict in the Noor Salman trial. It felt good to sketch outside after being cooped up in court for a solid month. The phalanx grew as I sketched and then a tripod was set up with all the microphones waiting for an announcement. A few reporters were curious about what I was doing and were pleased to see themselves in sketch form. I was hoping that the jury would be deliberating for a few more hours so that I had plenty of time to sketch. With the sketch complete I decided to get inside to continue waiting. Shoes and belt came off as I went through the security metal detectors. I usually don't redress since there is a second security check at the courtroom entrance, but I was heading up to the media room today to wait.

The media room has a refrigerator, microwave and a sink, so it is quite civilized. Several reporters had ordered bagels. The channel 9 reporter across from me Ken Tyndall showed me a sketch that had been done of him by a Saint Augustine artist. It depicted him as a bad ass pirate. On top of that I knew the hand of the artist. It was done by Orlando artist KC Cali. I told him the artists name, but it didn't seem to register.

A female reporter with immense eyelashes and plenty of mascara sat next to me. Her laptop was covered with stickers. One said something about Jihad. I was the outsider in the room, so I assumed she had been coming to this media room throughout the trial. This sketch was pretty far along, so I couldn't place her in the scene. Her head would have been about where the bagel is and that is the center of interest. Ken Tyndall shot a cell phone photo of her and the laptop and sent it to other reporters in the courthouse.

The previous evening I had received a e-mail from the court saying that a member of the media had been banned from the courthouse for harassing members of Noor Salman's family as they walked to their cars. As she said, "When I confronted her family outside the courthouse and asked them if “Jihad” is an act of terrorism, they REFUSED to answer!" To me these actions read as bigotry masked as journalism. The media were reminded that interviews must be conducted in specific designated locations. It turned out that this was the blogger who had been evicted from court and she returned anyway the next day. The photo tipped off security and soon a US Marshall entered the media room and asked the woman seated next to me to "Come with me."

She was escorted downstairs and back outside the courtroom. A second hand report claims that she wanted to shoot cell phone footage as she was being escorted out but the US Marshall took her phone until she was back outside. The same Marshall had confiscated a sketch I started of the courthouse lobby. My sketch showed the entry security system so I fully understood his concerns and gave him the unfinished sketches after I signed it. The female blogger stood outside the courthouse all afternoon shooting cell phone footage she posed online demanding her first amendment rights had been violated. I have to agree with the judges ruling that these rights do not include harassing family of the person on trial. She claimed that the media looked down on her by referring to her as a blogger. Personally I am proud to be a blogger. It allows me to freedom to report on this trial visually in a way that no other media outlet can match. The tight court rules were restrictive, but I worked within those restrictions to report during the entire length of the trial.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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