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They Queue Up Every Day for Sensational Trial

May 10, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Each day, a 79-year-old woman stands patiently in line to see Bernhard Goetz’s trial. She comes, she says, out of hatred.

″I was mugged three times, very, very badly ... and I have such hatred for those people who don’t go out and get a job, and instead they mug and rob and kill,″ said Anna Salvia of Brooklyn.

As for Goetz, ″I’d like to kiss him and shake his hand.″ She is convinced that the four youths he shot on the IRT No. 2 train were about to rob him; she believes passionately that Goetz should go free.

There are many in line who agree with Mrs. Salvia. There are others who hope to see Goetz punished. And there are others who line up on the fifth floor of the state court building in Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square just to watch the lawyers, to be entertained, to be enlightened.

The 100 or so spectators who, along with more than 60 reporters, have filled the courtroom each day have not been disappointed. In just the past week, they have heard evasive testimony from one of the young men Goetz shot; watched as another, seething with hostility, refused to testify; and seen a third take the Fifth Amendment.

Goetz is charged with attempted murder in the shootings, which took place on Dec. 22, 1984. The trial begins its third week on Monday.

The Goetz trial has become one of the hottest shows in town. When the building opens at 9 a.m., spectators rush the elevators to the fifth floor, where they line up. At 9:30 a.m., they pass through a metal detector and take their seats.

Sometimes there are enough seats for all. When there is not enough room, the line remains, and when seats open they are filled.

This trial attracts more than the usual buffs who frequent courthouses. They are old and young, black and white, students and lawyers, members of the Guardian Angels anti-crime group and of the National Rifle Association.

Actor Treat Williams was sighted one day. Roy Innis, head of the Congress on Racial Equality and a Goetz supporter, has attended, as has William Kunstler, attorney for Darrell Cabey, one of those shot by Goetz.

″This, to me, is educational, in general. Better than staying in the house. You learn something, you get out in the world,″ said Mrs. Salvia, who retired four years ago but had never before attended a trial.

Barbara Taylor operates a school in upper Manhattan and brought seven of her students to court for a living civics lesson.

Ms. Taylor is black, as are her students. ″They’re concerned about racism. They’re concerned about vigilantism,″ she said. ″But I feel sorry for Goetz, too. He’s a victim of our society, as well.

″I know one thing, though. Had Mr. Goetz been black and the youths been white, it would have been a whole different story.″

Ida Schoen of Manhattan, a member of the auxiliary police, agreed that Goetz was a victim, but she had nothing but scorn for the four men he shot or for what she sees as a criminal class. ″They should be brought up right - in a decent manner - and then there wouldn’t be all this crime,″ she says.

The issues are debated in line, over and over.

″I think Goetz created his own trouble. I don’t know if he’s in it for the glory or what,″ said Eric Zaccar, 25, a playwright from Manhattan.

″He didn’t have the right to (try to) take anybody’s life,″ said Eulogia Diaz, 16, who attended the trial one afternoon along with five other friends from an American government class at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Harlem.

Linda Sunderland heard Troy Canty, one of the four men Goetz shot, testify that he had once attacked one of his teachers. Ms. Sunderland, a former high school English teacher who was once mugged in the subway, was horrified.

″I can understand that Bernard Goetz is just somebody who was a target. Anyone can be Bernhard Goetz. It could happen to anyone,″ she said.

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