Hurricane

   Una notte d’estate del 1966, due uomini di colore entrano in un bar a Paterson, New Jersey e uccidono tre uomini bianchi. Poco dopo l’omicidio, due uomini vengono fermati per un controllo. I due uomini viaggiano all’interno di una macchina che sembra corrispondere alla descrizione della vettura vista allontanarsi dal luogo del delitto. E sono neri.
   I due uomini sono Rubin Carter, alias Hurricane stella nascente del pugilato, e un suo amico.

   Hurricane e il suo amico verranno arrestati, riconosciuti colpevoli e condannati a tre ergastoli ciascuno. Uno dei sopravvissuti alla sparatoria, durante il riconoscimento ufficiale, alla domanda se Rubin Carter fosse presente tra gli uomini che avevano fatto irruzione nel bar, rispose chiaramente che lui non riconosceva Rubin come uno degli aggressori.

   Tra i testi d’accusa principali, figurano Patty Valentine, Alfred P. Bello e Arthur D. Bradley. Gli ultimi due sono piccoli criminali, ed essi stessi tra i principali sospettati del triplice omicidio. Patty Valentine fu la prima ad arrivare sulla scena del delitto, e trovò Alfred Bello che si aggirava spaesato all’interno del bar con i tre cadaveri intorno. Le indagini vengono condotte da una squadra della polizia guidata da un detective che perseguitava Rubin da quando era bambino.
   E’ il 1966.

   Rubin Carter durante la sua detenzione scrive un libro che racconta la sua vicenda: Il Sedicesimo Round.

   Hurricane e il suo amico resteranno in carcere diciannove anni, fino al 1985, quando una sentenza del giudice H. Lee Sarokin della Corte Federale di Newark annullerà le sentenze di condanna, e ordinerà l’immediata scarcerazione dei due. Tra le motivazioni della sentenza di annullamento, si legge che durante il primo e il secondo processo erano state commesse “gravi violazioni costituzionali”, e che le condanne erano state emesse in base a “convinzioni razziste in danno della ragionevolezza”. Quando Hurricane fu arrestato, era una stella nascente del pugilato. La sua carriera finì ancora prima di cominciare.

   Nel 1999, La Universal Pictures realizza un film con Denzel Washington che racconta la storia di Rubin. Il film viene candidato al Premio Oscar, e vince un Golden Globe e l’Orso d’Argento al Festival di Berlino. Il titolo di quel film è Hurricane.

   Nel 1975, Bob Dylan scrisse una canzone che raccontava l’intera storia. La canzone riporta i veri nomi dei protagonisti della vicenda, inclusi i testimoni  d’accusa. Il titolo di quella canzone è Hurricane e potete ascoltarla dal radioblog:

   Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, my god, they killed them all!
Here comes the story of the hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

   Three bodies lyin’ there does Patty see
And another man named
Bello, movin’ around mysteriously.
I didn’t do it, he says, and he throws up his hands
I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin’, he says, and he stops
One of us had better call up the cops.
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin’
In the hot
New Jersey night.

   Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around.
Number one contender for the Middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that.
In
Paterson that’s just the way things go.
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
’less you wanna draw the heat.

   Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops.
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates.
And miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head.
Cop said, wait a minute, boys, this one’s not dead
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

   Four in the mornin’ and they haul Rubin in,
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs.
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!
Yes, here’s the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

   Four months later, the ghettos are in flame,
Rubin’s in
South America, fightin’ for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin’ the screws to him, lookin’ for somebody to blame.
Remember that murder that happened in a bar?
Remember you said you saw the getaway car?
You think you’d like to play ball with the law?
Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin’ that night?
Don’t forget that you are white.

   Arthur Dexter Bradley said, I’m really not sure.
Cops said, a poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talkin’ to your friend
Bello
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
You’ll be doin’ society a favor.
That son of a bitch is brave and gettin’ braver.
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain’t no gentleman jim.

   Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much.
It’s my work, he’d say, and I do it for pay
And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail.
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

   All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.
The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger.
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.
And though they could not produce the gun,
The d.a. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

   Rubin Carter was falsely tried.
The crime was murder one, guess who testified?  

Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride.
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

   Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.
That’s the story of the Hurricane,
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

 

 

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, Clifton (New Jersey) 1937 
Denzel Washington, Mount Vernon (NY) 1954 
Bob Dylan, Duluth (Minnesota) 1941 

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