Humanities Renaissance at the ‘Grave that Glows’ (Joe Arridy)
On a cloudy gray morning at a hilltop of an old prison cemetery in Canyon City, Colorado a group of people gathered to remember the life of a 23 year old mentally challenged man, Joe Arridy, who was wrongfully convicted and executed for the rape and murder of a teenage girl on January 6, 1939. Though this was a solemn occasion it was also a time to rejoice for these people successfully garnered a posthumous pardon for a human being with the mentality of a mere child on January 7, 2010.
Some key players could not attend including Philanthropist Humanitarian Robert Perske, author of *’Deadly Innocence?’, Joe Arridy’s descendant Maria Tucker, the descendant of Gail Ireland, the attorney who fought for Joe Teri Bradt and the attorney who took up the case pro bono and personally place the pardon on Governor Ritter’s desk, David Martinez Esq. They were at the grave site in spirit and their accomplishments will live on in perpetuity and so will the memory of Joe Arridy.
Though some members of ‘Humanities Dream Team’ were absent the event was still very energized with riveting poems, speeches and song. The ARC’s Craig Severa, the motivating force behind the grave stone, Dan Leonetti, who wrote the screenplay ‘Woodpecker Waltz was inspired to garner ‘Little Joe’ a pardon and Antonio Sanchez who enlisted an old friend, David Martinez for his legal prowess also graced the event.
There were other humanitarians that contributed to this noble cause. Entertainers, poets and professionals of all kinds who donated their skills, time and effort also attended this event for this was truly a group effort. Everyone donated thousands of hours doing what they could to bring Joe’s memory to light and to educate the general public about the judicial injustice that occurred three quarters of a century ago. Together they are humanities A-Team for they achieved the impossible in the face of all adversity, criticism and cynicism from an indifferent world.
After chatting with the director of The ARC, Colorado Springs Wilfred Romero it was clear the fight for justice for the son of Syrian immigrant, Joe Arridy, had become a lightening rod and an inspiration for others. It also became a conduit that links other humanitarian causes such as advocates against wrongful prosecution, false imprisonment, the death penalty, ethnic persecution and other social ills that also need to be addressed. It brings to light that we are not living in a civil society and it also reveals the consequences of a society that has lost it’s moral compass.
Though humanity slid into the abyss of ambivalence and indifference there is light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel as this gathering shows. There are people who actually care for fellow human beings regardless of race, color, creed and dogmatic principals. The corrupt legal system thought that by executing an ‘imbecile’ then burying him in grave would would silence the quest for justice but nothing could be further from the case.
On the contrary the Joe Arridy case had exposed the infinitely flawed criminal justice system by revealing skeletons for there are hundreds of Joe Arridy’s who continue to be incarcerated, persecuted and executed by career minded prosecutes who only look for numbers not justice. When a wealthy person can get probation for killing four people in a drunker joy ride while poor folks get 10 years behind bars for a much lesser crime, that is not justice. There is no justice when one can buy their way out of a vehicular homicide case, that is called elitism.
With a burgeoning prison population filled with minorities and poor folks the only people to benefit from this are investors in privatized prisons and the lucrative logistic services that keep these houses of horror in operation. The Joe Arridy case opened a can of worms since it focused on a time in US history when the Progressive Movement dominated the conventional wisdom of the day. America was in competition with Germany to achieve the ‘American Race’ as opposed to Hitler’s ‘Master Race’, it was a contest.
This explains why America turned their heads as Hitler roasted Semitic Jews, invalids, dwarfs and developmentally disabled people for they were embracing Theodor Herzl’s Zionist ideology of eugenics and exceptionalism, the cornerstone of the Progressive Movement. In turn America was busy trying to find excuses to clean the streets of ‘Mental Defectives’ and moving ethnic minorities out of sight and out of mind.
The story of the quest for the American Race is a dark and fetid one indeed and one would have to look long and hard to find the facts but they are out there, provided the books have not been burned yet. Fortunately Robert Perske did manage to shed light in this dark era in US history within the texts of his book Deadly Innocence?, a story about Joe Arridy. The book revealed the absolute hatred for minorities and disabled people that was the rave in early 20th Century America. Only a few years earlier the KKK paraded down the streets of Washington DC. It was also open season on immigrants during this era of hate.
The book revealed the purification of the hearts of millions and the business as usual approach to systematically railroading anyone people felt were different by the elites of the American Race. By their example the subordinate population learned to hate with great zeal for it was fashionable. Sadly history is repeating itself as politicians proudly proclaim their stance as a ‘Progressives and Zionists’ and I know they are banking on people’s ignorance of the history of the Progressive Movement.
Joe Arridy’s tale of wrongful prosecution and execution is a rallying point for many people as they become aware of the hatred that is being spawned over a much wider selection of differences. Racial and religious hatred has expanded to include political and ideological differences as well as financial inequities to such a degree whole swaths of contemporary American society are being subjugated and persecuted. The renewed cycle of overt hatred has become a cottage industry and this should be the shot across the bow to everyone.
Hopefully the Renaissance or ‘Humanities Spring’ will be the rallying point for all human beings both in the United States and the Globe since everyone is subject to wrongful prosecution for no one is immune, unless of course you are wealthy and well connected.
As for the ‘Grave that Glows’, since the death of Little Joe Arridy local residence have noticed over the years that Joe’s grave would glow in the wee hours of the night and for many people this was a sign that Joe was innocent. I have not seen the grave glow but I did notice a hawk circle around the gathering by his grave. Within my tradition this is a sign that the ‘Happiest Man on Death Row’ is with the Creator in a good way.
Though my heart grieves for this child who never really knew why he must die I shed a tear of joy knowing he is finally in a world of everlasting love.
I hope you learned to play the harp Little Joe…………………..
Your Devil’s Advocate
Friends of Joe Arridy