- Rubeus Hagrid
I wanted to take a moment to mention a couple of recent significant deaths in the news.
First was the death, last month, of Susan Atkins, who spent her entire adult life in prison in California after her participation in the Manson murders in 1969. She murdered, either by her own hand or through helping others, a number of innocent people: Sharon Tate, her unborn son Paul Richard Polanski--who, had he lived, would have been 40 years old this year--and her friends Voychek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, and a visitor to their property, eighteen year old Steven Parent, at 10500 Celio Drive. (It is sad that I remember all these names from perfect memory). She also murdered, as an accomplice, Mr. and Mrs. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca as well as music teacher Gary Hinman in a previous incident.
Susan Atkins was 61; she died of brain cancer, having never obtained even compassionate parole in her last days, having been at the end of her life the longest incarcerated female inmate in the history of California.
I neither rejoice at her death nor mock her. Having spent 40 years in prison, never freed, she is now (to quote Stephen King) "square with the house."
Her acts had, ironically, a profound influence on my life: the story of her (and Manson's) convictions at the hands of prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the book Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, was a powerful influence on my eventual career decision to work in the legal world.
Manson, himself, of course, remains incarcerated, far too dangerous even now to be set free. He turns 75 on November 12th, and still gets loads of fan mail. A man who murdered by command has had his music played by Axl Rose and others; he is, in spite of his abominably evil acts, a celebrity monster. He still has his followers and devotees.
* * * *
Second was a death in the last two days or so here in Detroit.
It appears that a local gang of radical "Muslims" (I use the quotation marks most advisedly; these, er, individuals had nothing in common with the decent Muslims I work with on a daily basis) have been engaged in various highly illegal activities. They were led by one Luqman Ameen Abdullah, formerly Christopher Thompson. Two days ago, eleven of these people were arrested by the FBI on gun and terror related charges.
Mr. Abdullah chose to respond to the arrival of a dozen FBI agents appearing at his workplace by shooting back. He was 53.
Mr. Abdullah, it turns out, was a spiritual follower of one Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a prisoner you may have heard of under his former name: H. Rap Brown, former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the late 1960s after it transmorgrified itself from a civil rights group to a violently revolutionary movement before it died.
Al-Amin/Brown later made his name as a killer of two policemen. He now leads his "Islamic" group out of the Colorado Federal Supermax.
Sixties radicals--the gift that keeps on giving.