Wha’d You Bring Him In Here For?


Sad news:

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former boxing champion whose conviction for a triple murder was overturned after he served nearly 20 years in prison, has died of prostate cancer. Carter, whose story inspired a Bob Dylan song and a Denzel Washington film, was 76.

Too soon gone; too much life stolen.

Carter fought the good fight — long after his days in the ring were taken from him:

He was active in the movement to free wrongfully convicted prisoners, reports Jon Kalish for our Newscast unit.

“There are far more people who are wrongly convicted than people would like to think about,” Carter said of his activism. “And this is my work because people came to help me when I was in dire need of help.”

Those who talk of post-racial America forget too easily, I think, how ferociously state violence was  employed to enforce racial hierarchy here.  For a different story that conveys this, check out a book that came up in the threads a few days ago, Devil in the Grove, and consider how long the sheriff at the heart of the judicial murders documented there held on to terrifying local power.  It’s a little less explicit now — but those days aren’t all gone yet, not by a long shot.  That’s why, in part, Carter’s post prison cause could keep him so fully occupied.

But for now, let us remember Rubin Carter himself.  A 20th century American life.


Image:  George Bellows, Both Members of This Club, 1909.

34 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    Bellows. So underrated.

  2. 2
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    But the fighter still remains

    Requiescat in pace, Rubin Carter

  3. 3
    Anoniminous says:


    The George Bellows Family Trust is still selling original lithographs and drawings, some for very reasonable prices. And some for not so reasonable prices.

  4. 4
    dp says:

    As someone who works daily in the legal system (albeit on the civil side), the notion that the results it spits out are correct is laughable. Correct results are achieved via agreement; anything that results from trial is questionable, at best.

    RIP Hurricane.

  5. 5
    Citizen_X says:

    From the link:

    In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve.

    Funny, how common a theme that was in the 20th century. In south Texas, it was Vail Ennis, Sheriff of Bee County, who brutally kept the Mexicans in line. He’s credited with killing eight people, in a not-especially-violent county. It seems he never just wounded anyone.

    Remember that history when “Patriots” go on about how the local Sheriff should have ultimate authority.

  6. 6
    Bob In Portland says:

    OT: Looks like Parubiy’s Pravy Sector has broken the Easter truce near Sloviansk, killing five Ukrainians.

    This is what happens when you give fascists guns. They kill people.

    You bought it, Gin & Tonic et al. You own it now.

  7. 7
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:


  8. 8
    Anton Sirius says:

    @BGinCHI: Agreed. Regardless of Bellows’ intent when he created it, I’ve always felt The Barricade was one of the most moving anti-war paintings ever made.

  9. 9
    Bob In Portland says:

    Robert Parry.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Citizen_X: One need look no further than Maricopa County, Arizona, to see these “patriotic” sheriffs in action.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bob In Portland: Well, yes, just look what’s happening in the Eastern Ukraine with guns and fascists.

    Fascists like Vladimir Putin.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    RIP Mr. Carter.

  13. 13
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Stand tall next to John McCain, because there might be weapons of mass destruction in Donetsk, or maybe Osama’s ghost is hiding in Kharkov. Or maybe the Russian navy will attack the US vessels.

    Read the Robert Parry link above so you may avoid further self-embarrassment.

  14. 14
    Patricia Kayden says:

    RIP Hurricane Carter. The movie with Denzel was hard to watch. Given the blatant racism in this country, the death penalty should be abolished.

  15. 15
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Bob In Portland: Everything you’ve said about Ukraine and Russia so far is wrong, threadjacker Bob. Why break the streak?

    I’m sure those Russian provocateurs that died last week storming a Ukrainian base inside Ukraine were the new Boston Massacre victims too, right, Bob?

    IDK, Bob, if you really believed in your principles you would be fighting the “fascists” here at home, right? Why aren’t you and your anarchist friends piling in a car with balaclavas to storm a US Army base? Solidarity!

  16. 16
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I thought I remembered the Carter story on American Justice:


    That show was a big deal for me, really shaped my views (though it wasn’t my only source, it was a powerful one).

    What I recall was the failure to follow up on the witness statement about the shape of the car’s brake lights.

    Bad police work, corrupt and racist injustice system, and yet another killer getting away.

    We hurt ourselves when we engage in this childish, lazy in group/out group thinking.

  17. 17
    Elmo says:

    Thanks for the link to the book. Through the magic of Kindle, I’m halfway through it now!

  18. 18
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    Funny how Bob in Portland, who was so upset about the Ukrainians backing out of an agreement that Yanyukovych never actually signed on to, seems to have no problem with the pro-Russian gunmen ignoring an agreement to disarm. No one really knows what happened at that checkpoint, including whether or not anyone was actually killed, but the fact is that you had armed rebels controlling movement in and around Slovyansk in defiance of the Geneva agreements.

  19. 19
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Jesus, you’re a putz. When I move out west, I’m living in Vancouver.

  20. 20
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I’ve considered myself an anti-fascist for the last quarter century. That’s why I respond to “dedicated swallowers of fascism” like you.

    Like I told another poster, take a look at the Robert Parry link above before you embarrass yourself further. You are currently standing shoulder to shoulder with people who wore swastika armbands a couple months ago. The charade can’t go on much longer. There aren’t enough Judith Millers to fool everyone, although you seem to be pretty easy to fool.

    You bought it. You own it. Enjoy it.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I have to say, I’m finding Bob in Portland’s abusive spouse routine increasingly creepy — Putin wouldn’t have had to invade Ukraine if they had just done what he wanted! The Ukranians are forcing Putin to invade and kill them! They should have just kept their mouths shut and Daddy Putin wouldn’t have had to hit them so hard!

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Interesting how you link to articles you don’t seem to understand, Bob:

    But Kristof appears to be readying his New York Times readers to support the violent crushing of the popular resistance in eastern Ukraine, which was President Yanukovych’s political base.

    So, basically, the conflict in Ukraine is between pro-Yanukovych forces being backed by Russia who want him reinstated, and anti-Yanukovych forces who want him to stay gone. The US and other European countries are trying to prevent any neo-Nazis from gaining power, but Putin’s antics are making that harder and harder.

    Basically, your boy Putin is setting the stage to put the neo-Nazis in the driver’s seat by removing all of the non-Nazi options, and yet somehow it’s everyone else’s fault that Putin is empowering the neo-Nazis.

    You can whine and cry all you want, but the reality presented in that article is that Putin is the one increasing the power of the neo-Nazi forces, not the American and European governments who were trying to keep them out.

  23. 23
    aimai says:

    @Bob In Portland: Christ, you’ve “considered yourself anti fascist for the last quarter century?” Is this “post mature anti fascism?” Like you are a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade but got there a little late? Hasn’t Franco been dead all this time? What fascists have you been warring against, bob ‘o my heart?

  24. 24
    🌷 Martin says:


    What fascists have you been warring against, bob ‘o my heart?

    Obama, natch.

  25. 25
    aimai says:

    Anyway, Tom: thanks for introducing me to the work of George Bellows. I really enjoyed looking him up online and seeing his work. What a tragic loss for American painting that he died so young!

  26. 26
    C.V. Danes says:

    I wouldn’t say “It’s a little less explicit now.”

    I wouldn’t say that at all.

  27. 27
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    If there is one thing I fear, the rise of the private prison industry, will put more people in prison. Corporate incarceration should be considered a form of genocide. any politician who supports this ought to be named and shamed.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bob In Portland: You are a useful idiot for fascist shit like Putin.

  29. 29
    Gravenstone says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    I’ve considered myself a n anti-fascist total waste of air for the last quarter century.

    As have the rest of us, sweetheart. As have the rest of us.

  30. 30
    James E. Powell says:

    My reading here at Balloon Juice has been sporadic for the last month. So I’m not sure what is going on with the Bob In Portland v. A Lot of Other People argument. I feel like I am at the spouses’ table at the reunion. I do have a few questions for people who know more than I do.

    1) Why should I care about Ukraine and Russia? If, for example, Russia were to annex Ukraine outright, what difference would it make in my life?

    2) How can any US or UK government talk about international law after the invasion & occupation of Iraq?

    3) How come the US backed the overthrow of an elected government? Was the election rigged or something? and

    4) Russia says this is like Kosovo? Is it or isn’t it? Does it matter?

    Again, I don’t have a spouse or anything to gain in this argument, but I am kind of curious why so many people are so passionate about a conflict that it does not appear the USofA should or could do anything about, even if we had the most manly of men in the White House.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    @James E. Powell:

    Short version: Bob in Portland is absolutely convinced that the CIA and local neo-Nazis overthrew Yanyukovych, so Putin is justified in taking over Ukraine. The rest of us are trying to point out that his view is fucking insane and Putin should stop trying to annex Ukraine.

    ETA: And none of us think the US should intervene militarily, so you can dismantle that strawman.

  32. 32
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Bob In Portland: Please stop. You’re making Baby Billy Bragg cry.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    warren says:

    @Bob In Portland: You. Stop quoting Billy Bragg. You understand nothing of his work.

    Also, eat a bag of dicks and choke to death on the last one.

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