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Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Ten North Carolina youths sent to prison in the 1970s who became known as the Wilmington 10 are seeking pardons of innocence from Gov. Bev Perdue before she leaves office this year.

The seven survivors and relatives of three dead members of the group convicted after a grocery store burned during a 1971 race riot filed petitions Thursday with Perdue’s office.

Wilmington 10 leader Benjamin Chavis and nine others were freed when a federal appeals court overturned their convictions in 1980. Chavis later became executive director of the NAACP. He says North Carolina’s politics and history 40 years after their convictions make this the right time to seek pardons.

Perdue is not seeking re-election this year. Her spokeswoman says the petitions will get full and fair consideration.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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