Greenberg, Interrupted

The trial of Lewis Greenberg ended last night with defense arguing that Ballwin city officials failed to prove that Greenberg’s installation The Holocaust Revisited might pose dangers to residents. City prosecutors, meanwhile, concluded that the piece was not art and thereby not protected by the First Amendment.

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photo: Kit Kellison

Judge Kathryn Koch announced that she would hand down her judgment within the next ten days. “Just in time for Christmas,” sighed David Howard, Greenberg’s lawyer.

The trial began two weeks ago in a Ballwin municipal courtroom, but was suspended so Koch could visit Greenberg’s home in the Whispering Oakwood subdivision and view The Holocaust Revisited for herself.

The lone witness for the prosecution, Ballwin police officer Dan Hawk, claimed that the pointed sticks, mosaic tiles and bits of plastic that comprise the piece were in violation of Ballwin city codes and, furthermore, potentially dangerous to emergency personnel who might need access to Greenberg’s yard.

Hawk also said that the brightly-colored pieces – including Greenberg’s patio furniture – were attractive to children too young to read the “Keep Out” signs Greenberg had posted on his property, and that they could be harmed.

Greenberg says that 100 trick-or-treaters visited his house on Halloween – drawn more by curiosity than by chocolate – and none were hurt.

“There are plenty of dangerous objects in Ballwin yards,” Howard said in his closing statement. “Ballwin allows Christian-based displays. This is content-based discrimination.”

Greenberg protested audibly when Ballwin prosecutor Richard Fox referred to his work as “litter.” “These people are culturally-deprived,” he fumed. “We do not need an expert opinion to say this is art. We do not need Picasso – even if he were alive. They need to look up the definition of ‘art’.”

Though Koch gave no indication of what her ruling might be, Greenberg believes she’s already made up her mind. “It’s evident,” he said. “I looked into her eyes and listened closely. They’re going to rule against me.”

-Aimee Levitt

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