What drove 37 year old Michael Bowers to slam, at 70 mph, an 18 wheel truck into the California State Capitol one night in January 2001? It was the act of a man who had been pushed to the brink. The kamikaze action by Bowers against the state government was a result of, according to Bowers associates, California's corrupt penal system, and it's ill treatment of him. Michael Bowers' problems began when, at age 22, he was accused of battery on a police officer. |
He was sent to the notorious California state prison system for two years. In California, being incarcerated for assaulting a police officer carries extra penalties, penalties that are inflicted by the particularly brutal California prison guards. According to family friends, once Bowers was put in the prison system, he could not escape it, and his continuous protests and complaints of his treatment resulted in getting him more hard time behind bars.
Those close to Bowers stated that once an inmate is labeled a troublemaker, his fate is doomed. When the correctional system was mandated to release Bowers, prison authorities would find ways of bringing him back on trumped up parole violations. He was trapped in the penal system, a system that is not oriented towards the rehabilitation of prisoners, a system that is fueled by the number of prisoners in its grasp. There are now huge state bureaucracies whose budgets, number of employees and level of salaries are determined by the number of prisoners in the system. The larger the number of prisoners the more opportunities for promotions and higher pay.
When Bowers was brought in for his last parole violation, he was sent to Corcoran State Prison for six years. Corcoran is the notorious California prison where guards were indicted for holding "Gladiator" type fights between rival prison gangs. These prison guard sponsored matches resulted in the brutal death of inmates both at the hands of guards, and at the hands of other inmates who were put in the prison yard with rival gang members. Michael Bowers tried to alert the press about what was going on. Prison authorities retaliated by placing Bowers in solitary confinement for an entire year.
"The system really abused Michael," his mother said. "It is unbelievable what happened to him." According to Bowers' mother, the one year in solitary confinement in the brutal Corcoran prison broke Michael's mind. Soon after, prison authorities labeled Bowers a "mentally disturbed offender" and committed him to various prison mental wards. According to a court investigator, George Connors of Beaumont, California, Michael Bowers was extremely articulate and well versed in the law.
His abilities were instrumental in convincing a jury to release him in 1999. By the time he won his freedom in 1999, however, he was a psychological wreck, his family said. Bowers was an intelligent man, and he felt that the State of California was responsible for the hell he had to endure at the hands of it's penal system. A prison system where drugs are more plentiful than in the streets and where prison officials routinely profit from its trade. He was a broken man. He felt that the state had ruined his life and wanted to take his cause to those that were ultimately responsible, those at the very top of state government.
On a crisp Tuesday night in January 2001, at approximately 9:30 P.M., while driving his employer's 15 ton truck, he took aim at the "highest symbol" of California's state government, its State Capitol building where the Assembly was in session debating the state's electric energy crisis. His assignment that night was to pick up a load of Gold Cross condensed milk at a Nestle's Carnation facility in Modesto, California, and deliver it to South Dakota.
However, he went only as far as Sacramento, where witnesses say he circled the Capitol several times blaring his horn before roaring up 11th Street and crashing into the building. The fire from the truck's ruptured diesel tanks killed him, and severely damaged portions of the building. The 'anti-terrorism' task force had been called in to make certain there was no 'conspiracy' involved. Bowers made the ultimate sacrifice in order to have his cause heard.
Bowers cause is the cause of all who are routinely victimized by the increasingly corrupt law enforcement, judicial and "correctional" systems. It's big business, and the victimization weighs heaviest on blue collar working people as was Michael Bowers.
Wall street insiders and white collar thugs steal billions from hard working people and get away with a slap on the wrist, if that. Meanwhile, people like Michael Bowers end up being sent to prison for years on minor offenses, or altogether false charges. The reasons behind the actions of Michael Bowers on that January night in 2001 are clear for all to see. The corruption, injustice, and downright evil that we who are better off may have the luxury to ignore, was something that Michael Bowers could not.