Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (also known as Saladin Abdullah Muhammad)Â has died. Sympathetic obituaries say things like “wrongfully convicted” or “exonerated.” But the black middleweight-title-contending boxer was neither.
Juries twice found Carter guilty of a triple murder. The evidence against him was overwhelming. He finally was granted a third trial on a technicality, but no judge ever said or implied that he was framed or that he did not commit the murders.
Carter, in 1966, murdered three people. But Hollywood later made a movie, “The Hurricane,” in which Denzel Washington brilliantly portrayed Carter as a wrongfully convicted near-saint, hounded mercilessly by a determined, racist detective. Excellent moviemaking, but it adds more sludge to the widely held notion of the “racist criminal justice system” that supposedly “warehouses” black males for no reason other than wrong place, wrong time, wrong skin.
So, what really happened that night in Paterson, N.J., when three people were shot and killed? Why did Carter get prosecuted? Was Carter, asÂ the mediaÂ continue to say, an “innocent man” who was “wrongfully convicted”? Did the courts “exonerate” him? Â (Do read on)