The Wilmington 10: Pardoned At Long Last

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by TruthOut10, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. TruthOut10
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    TruthOut10 Active Member

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    With her full pardon of the Wilmington 10 outgoing North Carolina governor Bev Perdue on Monday brought an admirable close to this case but also reminded us of a sad chapter of our history.

    The 10, nine young African American males and one white woman were convicted based on false testimony, on conspiracy and arson charges in 1971. Eight were students; the white woman was an anti-poverty activist.

    One of the most prominent of those convicted was Ben Chavis who had actually ben sent to Wilmington by The United Church of Christ to try and help quell racial tensions simmering due to the slow pace of integration. It was during a period of school boycotts and when the KKK patrolled the streets.

    Chavis, who later headed the NAACP was in prison for four years. The total sentences against the 10 had come to 282 years.

    In a statement Monday Perdue said: "These convictions were tainted by naked racism and represent an ugly stain on North Carolina's criminal justice system that cannot be allowed to stand any longer."

    The Wilmington 10 started serving their terms in 1976, four years after convictions, after long appeals. Although the convictions were overturned in 1980 by a federal court the victims spent several years behind bars and were never pardoned.

    They went to prison based on fabricated evidence. New evidence also showed that the prosecutor tinkered with the jury makeup. A Black juror, in a note was referred to as an "uncle Tom" while a White KKK member was called a "good" guy.

    The 10 had been charged with setting a White-owned business ablaze then firing at firefighters who came to put out the flames. There were two deaths during rioting -- the police and National Guard later made the arrests including of Chavis and his group, claiming that the shots had come from the rooftop of the church where they met.

    Over the years several people who had testified against the Wilmington 10 recanted.

    So, better late then never. Chavis himself is now 64, other survivors are elderly while four -- Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright, Anne Sheppard and Connie Tindall -- are now all deceased.

    Perdue did the right thing -- something two Democratic governors ahead of her had rejected.

    "I applaud Gov. Beverly Perdue for her leadership in righting this disgraceful wrong and congratulate the NAACP North Carolina State Conference, NAACP members and activists around the country for their work to raise awareness about this case," NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said, in a statement.

    Activists from around the world, including the NAACP, Amnesty International, and the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project worked hard. Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project was a justice outreach effort of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Wilmington Journal newspaper, where the effort was coordinated by Cash Michaels.

    The Wilmington 10: Pardoned At Long Last
     
  2. Katzndogz
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    Katzndogz Diamond Member

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    A pardon doesn't mean they were innocent. The convictions weren't vacated and the charges against them dismissed. It was a pardon.
     

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