When i learned that Rubin Hurricane Carter had died, I felt it was important to share with friends and co-workers. I talked about him with my Lizzy and my Facebook friends and co-workers. The story of Hurricane Carter opens the door to many doors in American society. Carter and his friend John Artis were framed for three murders of white people with extreme prejudice by an out of control injustice system in New Jersey. What was even more galling was that even after the racism in the original trial was exposed and two songs were written about this shameful episode, a New Jersey jury still followed racism to its logical conclusion. Innocence was not something they were willing to consider.
The story of racist prosecution lives in America. One of the most remarkable stories I learned about was about the Dallas D.A. who is determined to uncover wrongful prosecutions by his predecessor. When I mentioned this story to Lizzy, she was surprised by two things: the D.A. is African-American and the fact he is so dedicated to finding the actual criminals who committed the crimes, not just in closing cases. Somewhere I read that few criminal cases actually go to trial in the face of the overwhelming pressure that prosecutors put on defendants who are often poor and not well represented by legal counsel. There have been Supreme Court cases about people represented by incompetent, even sleeping counsel.
The story of the Hurricane is bigger than the man who bore that nickname. The hurricane also includes the innocent people we learn about through groups like the Innocence Project and the one that Carter founded in Canada. There were people who knew and respected him for his work who stood by him even as cancer ate away at his once magnificent body. His body remained sharp and he was loyal to those who stood by him.
The story of the Hurricane is about those who have still not yet been reached and or those who cases are too politically hot like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier. All caught up in a system that closes the door, seeks finality, executes people even when there is a reasonable doubt with regard to their guilt and punishes the poor in ways that they can’t even begin to imagine. This is the real Hurricane. Let’s begin to expose this story.