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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Members of the NAACP and the Wilmington 10 rally tonight in support of pardons for the group. More than 40 years after Mike’s Grocery on South 6th Street was fire bombed, a former Wilmington Police officer says there is another side of the story that is not being told.

“If these people didn’t do it, then who did?” former cop John Winecoff said. “I can’t find out an answer.”

Winecoff joined the police department in May 1971, three months after the firebombing and shooting at Mike’s Grocery that led to criminal charges against the Wilmington 10.

Now that the group is asking for pardons from the state, Winecoff feels the full story needs to be retold.

“For them to say they’re innocent, and you just read the press reports of what happened during that period of time from February to October (1971), I don’t know what other conclusion you can draw,” Winecoff said.

Winecoff says over the years police have been portrayed as the bad guys. He says many have never come forward to tell the truth.

“They don’t want to speak up, because that’s what happens when they do speak up. They are portrayed as racist,” Winecoff said. “And a lot of them will say to me, ‘Why speak up? It’s not going to change anything.’

If granted pardons, each member of the Wilmington 10 could be compensated $50,000 for each year they spent in prison, but that’s not why Winecoff opposes the possible clemency.

“It’s not about the money,” Winecoff said. “It’s about what is right and what is the truth.”

NC NAACP President William Barber and members of the Wilmington 10 will take part in a Rally in Support of Pardons at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s AME Church on Red Cross Street in Wilmington.

Comment on this Story

  • Rush limpballz

    To say that isn’t about the money is the true tell. It’s like when billy boy on fixed news states “I’m not saying” and then proceeds to say it. But the brain dead that listen to the propaganda soak it up. It is always about the money and in my opinion $50k per year of life is chump money. They should be paid more. Furthermore, we need to start going after folks who abuse their power. If its not about the money put their freedom, personal liberties, and pension on the table. It is so humorous all the people who complain about government entitlements, who are first inline to receive their state or federal pension and Medicare. Hypocrisy at its purest form with a little uneducated, uniformed, jealousy mixed in. Sorry about the long post. Again it is always about the money. Pay them more.

  • Old Man

    I want to know what Irreverent Barber’s cut would be…10%…or MORE?

  • Beach Bum

    Wilmington 10 = Domestic Terrorist.

    When or why would we pardon terrorist let alone compensate them?

    Stay on your side of the road and I will stay on mine.

  • Charles Walters

    If John Winecoff says something is fishy, then it must be fishy. He was an honest cop on the WPD. Maybe he should be brought out of retirement to head up a special investigation of the Wilmington 10 and the riots they caused.

  • deputy25

    i know John very well and he is straight up as 6 o’clock!! tell em John.

  • GuestAcey 19

    No pardon is due unless and until someone offers valid info on the crime.

  • Guest211

    Pardon these people? B— S—.

  • Erlkoenig

    “If granted pardons, each member of the Wilmington 10 could be compensated $50,000 for each year”

    Beats working for a living, doesn’t it freeloaders (Obamunists)?

  • Peyton Garrett

    It is about the money to these thugs. Blah, blah, blah. William Barber? Blah, blah, blah.

  • brian

    Only a retrial with a not guilty verdict should result in compensation for time wrongfully served. Pardons should not have that effect.

  • Linda Barnett

    What is not mentioned in the news story here for some odd reason is that a Federal circuit court judge found that the sentences of this victims were politically and racially motivated. The victims some in their teens were given over 20 years a piece. The state of NC has a poor record in this area even to this day which is the main point altogether of this story. It is ignorant to think that the victims of the trials are in this for ” the money”. 50,000$ for seven – eight years in prison. This is nothing. Isn’t even 10,000/year? All these people have had lives since then, worked, raised families and some our well known in their fields. This is about justice. If the perpetrators , the local justice system apologists have their side of the story let’s hear it. It should all come out in a fair and balanced way not by some former cop’s off hand comment to the press.
    The way this story is presented is a sham. WWAY should be able to do a better job than this.

  • Guest31415

    For each year in prison.

  • GuestReality

    Why is it “ignorant to think that the victims of the trials are in this for the money; $50,000 for seven – eight years in prison”?

    Actually, it’s $50,000 for EACH YEAR they were in prison; so for 8 years, that would amount to $400,000; and that’s just for one of them! Multiply that times 10 people, and it comes to $4,000,000. Think about it. If 6 guys would murder a delivery guy for $48.00 and some food, what do you think 10 guys would do for almost half a million dollars each? And don’t you think the NAACP will want a nice percent of this compensation? Of course, it’s about the money! Grow up and take your blinders off.

  • Guestquestioning

    I’m sure if you read this article correctly, you will see that the $50,000.00 is PER YEAR of incarceration, not a total amount. Even if the comment is “off handed” by the cop as you claim, what is the answer to it? If the Wilmington 10 is innocent of the crime, who committed it? That is what the cop is after, an answer to a very simple question.

  • Guest2020

    The people who were on trial were not and are not the victims. Those men they murdered are the victims. Those criminals got off on a technicality and they are not innocent.

  • news_archive

    The Prosecution opposed Rev. and Mrs. Templeton taking the stand; to testify Ben Chavis was with them at the time the grocery store was firebombed.
    May 12, 1977 http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1454&dat=19770512&id=wrUsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KBMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5424,2033895
    March 9, 1977 http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1821&dat=19770309&id=4x4tAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aqQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1461,955083

    October 4, 2002 Transcript from a retired judge in the case, Gilbert H. Burnett
    “Well, the court reporter, a dear friend of mine, retired, she said, “Judge”, she said, “I have a tape of a case you heard with Chavis where he was charged with accessory after murder.” I said, “Let me hear that thing.” (coughs) And what had happened, back before the Wilmington Ten incident- I mean, this stuff went on for quite awhile, burnings and rioting and all this stuff, shootings. Two- three young men, black men, out in Taylor Homes, had a gun. I don’t know the facts, but one of ’em got shot and killed. Those three were the only ones involved. The one who did the shooting was walking to the police station, to tell ’em he’d shot a guy- maybe it was an accident, I don’t know. On the way, this woman, who work- worked with Chavis- I don’t remember her name- talked to him, uh.., you know, he told her what he’d done, this–. She said, “Don’t go anywhere, don’t go to the police”, said, “Let’s talk to Ben Chavis first.” Now this is in the middle of a lot of chaos. They went to Lumberton, to a Holiday Inn, where Chavis met ’em. The kid told Chavis whatever happened. Chavis said, “Don’t do anything until you hear from me.” Chavis went to Raleigh. He called news conferences at the drop of a hat. I mean, he really called news conferences. He called a news conference and said a white man went to the- uh.. this is what was right on the tape. And a black man broke this case. Mr. Burnham was his name. Not a white man, a black man. It took ’em a year to break the case of what I’m tellin’ ya- ‘cuz people wouldn’t talk. He said a black man, to all these news people- a white man went to this door where these black youths were, shot and killed one of ’em in cold blood. All hell broke loose in this community. This is the real Chavis. This is Chavis.” http://library.uncw.edu/web/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/214.html

  • jj

    The only way these guys would have ever maded that much in a year back them would be robbing banks. They should still be in jail..

  • EllabBaker

    They were not even charged with murder. And there is not one shred of evidence that they were connected to the burning of Mike’s Grocery, one of 30 arson reports in the city that night, except the purchased testimony of unreliable witnesses who sometimes changed their stories several times in the same day, and later all of them recanted, saying they had been paid. The new evidence makes its clear that Allen Hall was provided with a woman and a shorter sentence in exchange for his false testimony: one of his letters to the prosecutor started “I need a woman,” then offers to commit perjury, and then “I will be a good n******.”


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