Slavery In America

There’s no other word for this than slavery. Mentally retarded men kept isolated, working long hours in a turkey processing plant for decades. Paid essentially nothing. Living in squalor. Until 2009. Here’s a quote from the introduction. RTWT.

A veteran social worker named Denise Gonzales drove past the winter-quiescent fields of 2009 to some town called Atalissa. She had to see for herself what subordinates were telling her. She pulled uphill to an old schoolhouse, its turquoise exterior garish amid the sleeping acres of snow-dusted brown. She found an open door and stepped into a wonderland nightmare, with walls painted playhouse colors, floors speckled with roaches and the air rank with neglect. From the squalid building’s shadows emerged its residents, all men, extending hands in welcome, their long fingernails caked with dried blood. A few hands looked almost forked. “From pulling crop,” they explained, a term that she soon learned referred to the yanking of craws from freshly killed turkeys.

You the boss lady? they asked, with grins of gaptoothed decay. You in charge of us now? A few led her on a tour past the soiled mattresses, the overloaded electrical outlets, the trash bins collecting the snow melt dripping from the ceiling — their home. The schoolhouse was crime-scene crowded. Law enforcement investigators. Social workers. The nervous caretakers. A woman just up from Texas, identifying herself as a co-owner of Henry’s Turkey Service and describing these “boys” as employees who were like family. “Dressed to the nines,” Ms. Gonzales recalls. “And right outside that room were these men needing medical attention, malnourished, with mice crawling in their rooms.” Two decades on the front lines of human frailty had not prepared her for this. But Ms. Gonzales suppressed her panic to focus on the names of these 21 Texans soon to be in her care. Gene. Willie. Henry. Frank. Keith. The Penner brothers, Billy and Robert. Others.

All the while, she kept thinking: How in God’s name did they wind up here?

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3 thoughts on “Slavery In America

  1. This is a shameful moment in our history, not the first and not the last. A Tama county youth home was closed down last year because of similar abuse. The governor has since been sued in an attempt to reopen it. I’ve not heard of anyone going to jail over it, just as in the Atalissa case.

  2. Disgusting is the BEST I can say… How can ANYONE do that to another human being???

  3. The article is fascinating and sad because you know that this is going on elsewhere. They just lucked out and finally spotted this one.

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