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and this is all i know by channe@cryoterrace (copyright 2001 all rights reserved)

He died in a riot, shot by a rookie, joining the fifteen others who had
died in similar riots. The news media hyped it, hair-gelled news-magazine anchors shrilling the death as if it were Armageddon, and we bought it, chewing it around our teeth and letting the saccharine into our bloodstream.

His name had been David Raat, and he was a farm boy from just outside the city, given to chewing sweetgrass or flicking open a Zippo in just a certain way, the kind that got your cigarette lighted between your two favorite fingers. He grew up, and went to college, screwed a few girls, loved one or two of them, graduated, moved to the city, and lit his cigarettes in front of Lowe's Market with the boys from the Safeway until he was shot through the chest by a cop during the Riots of '25.

It's hard to tell just how many people died during the madness of that summer, but Dave Raat was different, because he was the first, because he was the spark that blew the installation to atomic proportions - no, to subatomic proportions. Any history teacher worth its salt will slip forth, on demand, the account of David Raat's martyrdom, give you the details or even the camera account of the aim, the click, the blast, and the quick tracing of redness on the t-shirt. Even the small sound that marked the end of his life, the cry of the rookie for backup, the slow reddening of the faces of his Safeway buddies, the quick flash of a gun not regulation...

I know you've seen it, just like everyone else. David Raat, Poster Boy for the Revolution, media martyr, dead before he knew just what he started.

J.D. Snyder prided himself on two things: his initials, and the fact that he had become assistant manager of the Safeway in less than a year. At twenty-one, he swilled beer in public, crushed cigarette butts with his bootheel, hooted loudly at tight-bottomed ladies who passed by, even held down what passed for a girlfriend (a thin, two-dimensional rat-like thing with fake blonde hair and a wan smile).

He was David Raat's roommate.

As such, Snyder became a very famous man in the months after he was arrested, feeding the media tidbits between court sessions, sessions that were inundated with reporters who swarmed like enraged locusts around the courthouse door bandying questions like "What about the officer that shot David Raat?" They caught pictures of him on the way back to the jail, unrepentant, head held high. He'd answer questions with a dignity you don't normally see in the criminally poor. He used good English. And his girlfriend cried his innocence behind crocodile tears, which helped.

And they began showing up at the courthouse, carrying placards
emblazoned with "Free J.D." and "Remember Raat" on them, nonwithstanding the fact that if David Raat was still alive, he'd get quite a laugh out of it and then go find another joint to smoke. One of them even threw a rock at the prosecution's attorney; it hit her leg, bruising it, and the tabloids had a field day.

It brewed, it bubbled, it simmered on the pavement of the courthouse, between sneaker-soles of the spectators and behind the eyes of one J.D. Snyder.