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Amanda Knox: The Mask and Mantle

October 3, 2011, 5:13pm, SeaTac Airport. The British Airways jet touches down, Amanda Knox is home and our collective breath is released, but our joy was tempered with thoughts of Meredith Kercher’s family.

Standing on the deck of a ferry, I had the unexpected pleasure of watching that jet fly over Seattle and drop below the treetops as it descended onto the tarmac, later I would learn that Amanda was remarking how "surreal" it was to see home. She’s right. Her plight affected many of my friends and throughout this ordeal we chanted, "When her plane touches down at SeaTac, then it’s over."

Gliding above the Space Needle and The Box It Came In, this huge jet represented the end of that frightening odyssey. Pure unabashed relief was palpable in our community for weeks afterward and we fully support Amanda’s next odyssey, shedding the mask of Convicted Murderer and the mantle of Sex-Crazed Maniac.

That Amanda is the figment of a depraved imagination and does not exist.

The Real Amanda does not have to prove herself to the people who know her best and that would be Seattle, thank you very much, not Perugia. As each day takes both Amanda and her friend, Raffaele Sollecito, closer to reclaiming their lives, their family and friends want the world to know one thing:

"All harassment needs to stop because no one is entitled to dictate anything to either Amanda or Raffaele."

Seattle’s concern was evident as Welcome Home signs sprang up around West Seattle. One friend tells of the Fauntleroy Thriftway erupting into cheers when the verdict was announced. "Murder in Italy" author Candace Dempsey said that the reporters in the Perugian courtroom also cheered, an extremely rare occurrence in the media.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel hosted a vigil and those who attended represented the thousands who supported the families. The local, national and international media was invited to share this very excruciating night with us, when verdict was announced it was easy to see that the Seattle press was just as excited as we were. In Perugia, Lynda Byron of KING 5 News related her experience of folks asking about Amanda’s welfare everywhere she went. I had the same experience and when I returned to work after the vigil, there were nearly 100 messages waiting. The delight in the voices of my friends was a precious gift, we had suffered with Amanda’s family and now we celebrated with them.

Everywhere you look in my hometown is a Cheshire Cat grin.

Seattle’s local media did something unprecedented the day Amanda arrived home, after an initial interview they told the family they were leaving to honor the request for privacy and then to the amazement of the national and international media they packed up the trucks and left. The US media followed suit the next day and the Italians left a week later. The British have never left and they are paying the paparazzi to follow Amanda and Raffaele. What little press you’ve seen in the past few months has all been yellow journalism.

The tabloids decided Amanda was a celebrity; she never made that choice for herself.

She hates being famous for this tragedy and she has never pranced in front of a camera like a Hollywood starlet, yet the tabloids are still making up *insert expletive* stories. Because the US media stepped back, it was exceptionally easy to track that England’s Daily Mail has bought most of the paparazzi pictures and authored most of the stories which are mostly incorrect.

Although I’m sure it’s a joke, I’ve recently heard chatroom gossip that indicated if the paparazzi "don’t leave soon" the "Anonymous" folks are going to jump in front of the cameras and block their shots. The Occupy Razzi people need to take their pictures too, I think it would be hilariously funny to see a website devoted to unmasking the stalkers.

Many wonder what is next for the families. First, Amanda can never be extradited because the Burden of Proof is on Italy for the capitol crime, second Slander is non-extraditable and third Amanda and Raffaele are free to travel wherever and whenever they please. Fourth, they are all very happy.

They will chronicle their experience with a book, interviews and perhaps a documentary or movie, but in their own time. Amanda would like to travel to Italy in the future; she knows it was only a few people in Perugia that harmed her, not all of Italy. She respects and is grateful to the Italians that came to her aid and someday she will replace the last four years with delightful memories. Raffaele had plans to travel to the US before this happened and I know many would welcome him in these United States.

Since Amanda and Raffaele were not at the apartment when Rudi Guede, a burglar, killed Amanda’s roommate Meredith Kercher, not even God can prove that they are guilty of the capitol offense. Neither Amanda nor her parents have to personally attend court for the Slander charge. They do, however, want the process to move forward so people can see that Amanda did not lie, that coerced statements taken from an Illegal Interrogation were used against her and that she was abused during that interrogation. They want the parties who broke laws to be brought to justice.

In the meantime the case has advanced to the higher courts and we have confidence that Rome will make sure justice prevails, not someone’s icky fantasies. When you sweep away all of the lies and focus solely on the legitimate evidence, it is really easy to see that Rudi Guede is the killer and his version of events was manipulated to implicate Amanda and Raffaele.

Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed the Vienna Convention and this treaty is a Safety Net for every citizen, plus each country has their own bylaws regarding legalities with a host nation. The US the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), for example, regulates the American embassies while maintaining agreements with the Vienna Convention. The embassies, in turn are required to know the laws of the host countries and report any deviations to Washington DC in the form of a Protest as outlined in 7 FAM 426: Protests.

The American Embassy in Rome should have seen a Red Flag when Amanda became the second American targeted by Perugia’s Public Minister Giuliano Mignini himself in an 18-month period. Several Protests should have been filed on Amanda’s behalf with the State Department; so far we have not found any, only a few threadbare dispatches, none mentioning FAM laws broken by the Perugians.

Italy’s constitution assures that its legal system "conforms" to "international law" to protect foreign nationals, but this law was also broken for Meredith Kercher’s true killer to be ignored and for Amanda to be illegally imprisoned. Raffaele was deprived of his "inviolable rights" as a citizen of Italy. PM Mignini actions reveal that he was aware he was breaking laws and all three counties should have been aware of the transgressions. The Supreme Court should have intervened four years ago, but injustice in Perugia continued unabated.

Relevant to everyone traveling, and especially to parents with children studying abroad, this complete collapse of the Safety Net in Italy exemplifies official neglect and should frighten every taxpayer. Neither Amanda nor her family thought they would be abandoned by both the Italians and the Americans to suffer bankruptcy at the hands of the Perugians, the very same people whose legal budget is paid for by the Italian taxpayers. The Italian Taxpayers have spent millions on this case.

We taxpayers want to know what happened to the Safety Net.

I hope both the Italian Supreme Court and the US Department of State will address this issue. And I’d also like to know why the British are allowing their own citizens to be abused by the Perugians, like everything that was done to Amanda and Raffaele, there is a subtly to this abuse, a delicate twisting of a law here or there to obtain what PM Mignini desired. Illegal interrogations, solitary confinement, mental abuse, 11pm instead of 9:30pm, "Go back and find evidence," "Oops, that darn Power Point!"

During the last week of the Appeal, the prosecution left us with one final example of their "respect" for Meredith. Her nude corpse, from her Brazilian to the terrible wound in her neck, was shown in open court. Twice. Showing autopsy photos to the pubic is expressly forbidden but, after four years of compliance and in the 11th hour, the prosecution pretended to "fumble" the Power Point Presentation. Two days in a row. The same horrible picture. The entire court witnessed the prosecution act like jackasses.

Even their pet reporters were shocked by this dirty trick. Too bad Meredith’s family and friends never saw any of it or they would have been as angry as the Knox and Sollecito families. It’s been obvious to us for some time that the Perugians were keeping her family out of court so that they could play out this farce to the max, because no victim’s family would ever put up with the soap opera that we were forced to watch.

This shocking display of disrespect was the last straw, if no one would stand up for Meredith, then Amanda’s family would.

Edda Mellas and Deanna Knox, Amanda’s mother and sister, walked out of the courtroom in protest on the second day of being subjected to the offense, their anger directed at the prosecutors. I am witness to concern for Meredith by Amanda’s family and friends; there has never been a time when we were not angry with how the prosecution treated the Kercher’s. Do I even have to go there about how they treated Our Kids?

Seattle endured this nightmare, a child in a foreign prison, with patience and grace but the world would have heard us if the Perugians had been allowed to continue this mockery. The Loud Crowd, those legendary souls whose volume can shake tiles from the ceiling and elicit grumbling from opposing sports teams, have been telling everyone who would listen that all we wanted was Fair Play and it’s not wrong to expect that from a friend. We are forever grateful that Italy agreed.

And what is up the Nationalism Card?

Trollarazzi be damned; this case should not be used to trash talk our three countries. Between our corrupt governments, corrupt judicial systems, corrupt banking systems, dumbass wars, backbiting politicians, bratty citizens, sex, drugs, rock n roll, beaches, a love of food and the hotly debated "Whose Accent is Cutest?" you can hardly tell where one country ends and the other begins.

However, this tragedy has affected Seattle’s travel to Italy, many are now vacationing elsewhere and children are forbidden to attend any university there. I think that is incredibly sad. We also became suspicious of our embassies, but just when I thought bureaucrats were the same worldwide, our Malaysian embassy proved me wrong.

Last year a friend became gravely ill while on vacation. As his mother ticked off the ways the embassy officials helped her family, I ticked off in my head where those bylaws were located in FAM. Unbeknownst to her, I had just read the entire document while researching "American Embassy Fail" for the Vashon Loop, part of an investigative series for Curt Knox’s hometown.

Amanda’s experience brought home many examples of the corruption and good in our global society, but the most shocking to me was how the media brazenly abused these innocent people; it demonstrated why citizens need to hear news directly from the source before judging. Seattle really knows Amanda Knox, not the Perugians, not the British. So, dear readers, you must now choose where you get your information.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth or some Ass?