The court appearances for Joshua Rockwood have already taken on something of a ritualistic feeling. Different tribes show up before the hearing and stand in the parking lot – the conservative Oathkeepers, members of the Tea Party, some reporters. The TV stations have already lost interest, they love putting up mug shots and photos of allegedly abused animals, but they don't much care to find out anything more, or to give people a chance to reclaim their reputations by telling the stories.
The biggest showing by far are farmers, neighbors, friends and customers of West Wind Acres farm. Joshua Rockwood has been charged with 13 counts of cruelty and neglect to his animals, all of the charges related to the brutal winter that gripped the Northeast last February.
There was no news from the brief hearing tonight, but I get to speak to several of Joshua's neighbors, people who see him and his animals every day and have seen how hard he works to take care of them, and how healthy the active they are. They said the cold wave in February was horrible, their own pipes froze and burst, sometimes more than once. They all said how much they admired Joshua, what a good friend and neighbor he was.
The next hearing – next Monday – is to assess the boarding and board charges a horse rescue farm is charging to care for the three horses seized from Joshua's farm. The hearing will not deal with the animal cruelty and neglect charges.
Joshua's next door neighbor said "these charges are just outrageous, we are all here to defend him and support him for as long as it takes."
Between 250 and 300 people packed the Glenville Town Court to support Joshua. It was a standing room only crowd. The actual hearing on the charges against him was moved to 10 a.m., April 27, at the Glenville Town Court. Ken Norman, our friend and farrier showed up to support Joshua, so did Paul Rickenbach-Moshimer of Blue Star Equiculture. Maria came too.
Ken has long been involved in horse rescue, he describes the charges against Rockwood as "Bullshit Misdemeanors," the most succinct description yet.
After each hearing, Joshua, stone-faced per his lawyer's instructions, goes out into the parking lot with his attorney and talks things over. I hope to visit Joshua over the next few days and see the baby pigs and lambs on his farm. Most cases like this are settled because it is grueling and expensive to go to court. I have no idea what Joshua will do, I believe he will fight hard to get his three horses back, they were seized during the raid on his farm.
I've been to Joshua's farm, I have seen absolutely nothing that would warrant his arrest and prosecution for cruelty and animal abuse. One farmer after another at the hearing said the same thing: it could have been me. I am a fan of justice, but justice takes it's own time and move in it's own way. You can contribute to Joshua's defense fund here.