Rubin Carter's review of Sister Helen Prejean's book, Death of Innocents
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
'Hurricane' Rubin Carter passed away April 19, 2014
The Hurricane in Saskatoon (Feb. 2005) ♦♦
Carter quits rights group he founded over Guy Paul Morin's prosecutor's appointment to Judge
Chairman: Association in defence of the wrongly convicted
The nature of free speech
is such that whenever an individual makes a superhuman achievement,
the character assassins come out. This is certainly true of the
Hurricane Carter. I did a search on google and the first three sites
that came up were Hurricane detractors. There are attacks on
the movie and on Bob Dylan's song. There are lists of nasty questions
to ask Mr. Carter when he shows up for speaking engagements.
There are claims that race had nothing to do with Carter's situation.
We can expect that any
underdog who makes an impact to correct injustices will receive
this kind of noise. There are those who insist Steven Truscott (right)
is guilty and some members of the Saskatoon police continue to
insist David Milgaard (right) killed Gail Miller.
The Hurricane Meets Mumia
Rubin Hurricane Carter was a top middleweight
boxer when he was framed by the police in 1996 for a triple murder
in Paterson, New Jersey. Carter and John Artis were convicted
for a crime they did not commit. Carter spent the next 19 years
of his life in prison, until his conviction was overturned by
a federal court. His struggle for justice is depicted in the
current film Hurricane starring Denzel Washington, who was nominated
for an Academy Award for his gripping portrayal.
On March 25, Rubin Carter
went back behind bars--to visit Mumia Abu-Jamal at the "super
max" SCI Greene prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Carter
has been speaking out in support of Mumia. In February, he made
a taped message saying, "Hello! This is Rubin Hurricane
Carter calling on you to come out to the Emergency National Conference
to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal. We MUST save him. Please come out!"
The following are excerpts from Rubin Hurricane Carter's talk at the forum
I was at the peak of my career,
a professional prize fighter.... And the next thing I knew I
was fighting for my very life, on trial in criminal court.
I was accused of murdering
three complete strangers in a New Jersey bar. The state sought
the death penalty. The odds of my being alive today were not
exactly in my favor.
There were three murder victims.
All of them were white. The jury was all white. The police, the
judge, the state witnesses and the prosecutors were all white.
I, at that time, was Black. (laughter)
Even though I did not remotely
fit the description of the assailants...even though the two surviving
victims did not and could not identify me and even said it was
not me, even though I had a number of credible alibi witnesses
placing me elsewhere at the time of the crime, even though I
passed the lie detector test showing that I had no involvement,
and even though I testified voluntarily in front of two separate
grand juries and was exonerated--I was still convicted.
But luckily, if you can call
the hell of a triple life sentence luck...I escaped execution.
It was the quality of my legal representation that made the critical
difference, that allowed me to remain alive, that allowed my
innocence to remain alive. And we won it! Here I am! We won it--just
as we're going to do for Mumia Abu-Jamal!
When I walked into that cell
this morning and saw this big, young, handsome, strapping person
named Mumia Abu-Jamal--eyes radiant, skin effervescent--here
was an innocent man. And I'm looking at this big brother, and
this big brother's looking at me, and the first thing he says,
"You don't look like Denzel Washington!"....
I am the Executive Director
of AIDWIC, the International Association in Defense of the Wrongly
Convicted, based in Canada, Great Britain and the United States.
I am also on the board of directors of the Southern Center for
Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.
And we deal with death penalty
cases of wrongful conviction throughout the south every single
day.... This country, which considers itself the leader of the
free world, is the only western industrialized nation who insists
upon maintaining the anachronism of the death penalty.
And we're not even ashamed of this rampant racism in its selective application.
Hell, we even kill children
and admit them to be counted as adults. Do you remember Ricky
Richter? Ricky Richter was from Arkansas. And President Clinton,
doing his first run at the presidency, came off the campaign
trail and went down to Arkansas and signed the death warrant
of this mentally retarded man, and by that fact was able to gain
And we've got somebody else
running in his footsteps. We've got that governor George "Death"
Bush, Jr. down there in Texas. This person has been in office
for five and a half years and already he has executed more than
122 people. This man is crazy. And his brother is trying to catch
up with him, too. Just as [Pennsylvania] Governor Tom Ridge is
trying to stay up with them. It's not hard to be outraged when
you realize that in no other country would this topic even be
necessary. This specialty of law doesn't exist elsewhere. It's
not hard to be outraged when you hear that lawyers in Louisiana
and Mississippi representing indigent defendants in capital cases
receive the ridiculous sum of $1,000--and that's the maximum
no matter how intensive the investigation, the preparation, or
the trial. And in Georgia the fee is even less. It's not hard
to be outraged...
When we see people like Mumia Abu-Jamal, when we see people like Rolando Cruz in Illinois,
when we see people like Geronimo Pratt, when we see people like
Leonard Peltier, when you see people in Canada, for example,
like Donald Marshall, David Milgaard, Deepo Moore and Thomas
Southalaw, Christopher Bates --and the list goes on and on and
on-- it's not hard to be outraged. It's not hard.
You see, there's a rush to
death in our society, a chilling climate of anti-crime hysteria
and fear.... Fear and prejudice inflames passion but clouds judgment.
When you fear someone anything is possible. You can then justify
anything psychologically and legally--from slavery to segregation,
to anti-Semitism, to the McCarthy witch hunts. You can justify
the erosion of constitutional protections and justify the wholesale
application of the death penalty against minorities, the poor,
the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised.
Blinded by a fear of crime
we focus only on the symptoms and completely ignore the cause--the
poverty, the unnecessary poverty, the unnecessary illiteracy,
the unnecessary unemployment, the unnecessary drugs and the unnecessary
racism. And instead of extending opportunities to people, we
punish them and marginalize them further...You see, there are
many people who find themselves standing on the wrong side of
the law today not because they went astray, but because the law,
having been placed in the wrong hands, strayed from the right
path. That's what we've got going on.
In existing criminology there
are indeed criminal concepts or criminal persons or a criminal
profession, a criminal society and even a criminal tribe. But
there is no concept of a criminal state or a criminal government
or criminal legislation. And therefore the biggest crimes of
all actually escape being called crimes. But it is absolutely
criminal for anyone born and raised in this country to be illiterate.
It is absolutely criminal for anyone in the country to be homeless.
It is criminal for anyone in this country to be narcotized into
passivity. It is criminal that there are more young Black men
incarcerated in this country's prisons than there are in the
universities. It is criminal that people in this country are
made to live in abject poverty while living in the wealthiest
country in the world...
This gathering here today--and
for however long it takes us to free Mumia, because he will be
free--is absolutely vital and necessary. I really can't stand
here and tell you how much it means, when you are wrongly imprisoned
or sitting on death row, to know that there are people out here
like you attending events like this, that there are people out
here like you who really do care about justice. That gives us
hope, because hope is always more valuable than common sense.
And in a place as hopeless, desperate and dangerous as is the
nature of a prison, there is nothing more precious than hope...
Every wrongful conviction has
the same flavor, is made up of the same ingredients and has the
same stink to it. And all of 'em stink...
In my case, for example, I
had two petty criminals, themselves suspects in the crime, who
claimed--with the help of a $10,000 reward and promises of leniency
for crimes that they committed that night that would have ended
them in prison for 90 years--they saw me at the scene. The prosecutor
knew that it's a lie. Just as with this Cynthia White thing in
Mumia Abu-Jamal's case. They knew the woman was lying. And yet
they hid that and allowed the jury not to hear exculpatory evidence
about Mumia Abu-Jamal.
We've got to get Mumia Abu-Jamal out of jail. He doesn't
belong there. And he is a beautiful brother! He is a beautiful
brother, oh, yeah.
The above speech was given before Bush became president.