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On Vashon, Amanda Knox is more than a symbol | Editorial
A couple of years ago, Bill Knox, a Vashon resident and the grandfather of Amanda Knox, told The Beachcomber he would not speak publicly about the lurid case that had put his granddaughter behind bars and under an international spotlight — until she was freed.
Monday, hours after an Italian jury had proclaimed her innocent and shortly before she boarded a plane to head home to Seattle, he made good on his word.
“We’re ecstatic,” he said during a brief phone conversation.
A retired industrial designer who has lived on Vashon 48 years, he and his wife Millie decided not to go to Seattle to wait all night with other friends and family members for the much-anticipated verdict. “We’re a little old for that,” he said.
Instead, the couple sat quietly and alone in their modest north-end home, glued to the television set, waiting for a verdict that would be announced, literally, to the world. He was overcome with emotion when it finally came.
“I’m not a real sentimental type,” he said. “But I found tears running down my cheek.”
As he spoke, the doorbell rang. Another bouquet of flowers had just arrived, adding to the four already adorning their home.
At The Beachcomber, we, too, were glued to the news on Monday, waiting — not as journalists, but as Islanders — to hear Amanda’s fate. And we, too, felt waves of emotion. Amanda Knox has come to mean many things to many people. But here on Vashon, she’s not just a symbol. She’s Bill and Millie’s granddaughter.
Her father, Curt Knox, is a Vashon High School graduate. Karen Pruett, one of her many champions, is a Vashon hairdresser. The Vashon Rotary recently hosted a breakfast with Judge Mike Heavy, here on Vashon to advocate for her release.
And how fantastic that it has finally happened.
Those who have been paying attention know she was put behind bars on evidence that didn’t hold up. The eyewitnesses included a heroin addict and a homeless man. The motive was nonexistent. And the only shred of evidence the prosecution seemed to possess — bits of DNA found on the alleged murder weapon — vaporized under the heat of serious scrutiny.
Some critics have taken issue with our national obsession with her case, noting that we wouldn’t be so fascinated if she weren’t young, pretty and white. While many Americans were decrying the workings of an Italian judicial system that put her behind bars for four years, Troy Davis, a black man, was on America’s death row for a murder many say he didn’t commit. Knox was freed. Davis was executed.
That disparity is, indeed, profound. But to Bill and Millie Knox, to Amanda’s many friends and family members and of course to Amanda herself, an analysis of America’s institutional racism and the role of the death penalty matters little.
What matters is that the Italian judicial system worked. Six jurors and two judges had the courage to right a wrong. And Bill and Millie Knox, a beloved Island couple, will soon take their granddaughter into their arms.