Gov. Perdue issues Pardon of Innocence for Wilmington 10
 

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue has issued pardons to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution.

Perdue issued a pardon of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman sentenced to a combined almost 300 years in prison for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store that occurred after police shot a black teenager. The pardon means the state no longer thinks the group committed a crime.

The three key witnesses in the case later recanted their testimony. Amnesty International and other groups took up the issue, portraying the Wilmington 10 as political prisoners.

NEWS RELEASE FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE:

Gov. Bev Perdue today signed a Pardon of Innocence for the Wilmington 10 and issued the following statement:

“I have spent a great deal of time over the past seven months reviewing the pardon of innocence requests of the persons collectively known as the Wilmington Ten. This topic evokes strong opinions from many North Carolinians as it hearkens back to a very difficult time in our state’s past, a period of racial tensions and violence that represents a dark chapter in North Carolina’s history. These cases generate a great deal of emotion from people who lived through these traumatic events.

In evaluating these petitions for clemency, it is important to separate fact from rumor and innuendo. I have decided to grant these pardons because the more facts I have learned about the Wilmington Ten, the more appalled I have become about the manner in which their convictions were obtained.

In 1980, a federal appeals court overturned the convictions in a written decision that highlighted the gross improprieties that occurred during the trial. The federal court determined as a matter of law that numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct and other constitutional violations took place. Among other things, the court ruled that with regard to the testimony of the prosecution’s key witness – upon whose credibility the case depended entirely -- “the conclusion is inescapable that [he] perjured himself” and that “this fact was bound to be known to the prosecutor . . .” The court also declared that it was undisputed that key documents had repeatedly been withheld from defense lawyers. It also found numerous errors by the trial judge that had the effect of unconstitutionally prejudicing the defendants’ ability to receive a fair trial.

Since the trial ended, the prosecution’s key witness and two supporting witnesses all independently recanted their testimony incriminating the defendants. Furthermore, last month, new evidence was made available to me in the form of handwritten notes from the prosecutor who picked the jury at trial. These notes show with disturbing clarity the dominant role that racism played in jury selection. The notes reveal that certain white jurors believed to be Ku Klux Klan members were described by the prosecutor as “good” and that at least one African American juror was noted to be an “Uncle Tom type.”

This conduct is disgraceful. It is utterly incompatible with basic notions of fairness and with every ideal that North Carolina holds dear. The legitimacy of our criminal justice system hinges on it operating in a fair and equitable manner with justice being dispensed based on innocence or guilt – not based on race or other forms of prejudice. That did not happen here. Instead, 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.

Justice demands that this stain finally be removed. The process in which this case was tried was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, as Governor, I am issuing these pardons of innocence to right this longstanding wrong.”

NEWS RELEASE FROM THE WILMINGTON TEN PARDONS OF INNOCENCE PROJECT:

On behalf of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project – a justice outreach effort of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Wilmington Journal newspaper – we are all very proud of North Carolina today, and extraordinarily grateful to our Governor, Beverly Perdue, for having the tremendous courage and wisdom to grant all members of the Wilmington Ten, pardons of actual innocence.

Thank you Governor!

Gov. Perdue’s historic action today doesn’t remove the past forty years of injustice against ten innocent American citizens – North Carolinians who stood up for equal treatment under the law in our public education system. But it does correct the historical record, that Connie Tindall, Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright, Anne Sheppard, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, James McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, and the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, were indeed innocent of all charges falsely assessed to them by a corrupt prosecutor who, to this day, has not answered for what he did.

We sincerely hope that now, at long last, a certain peace can be restored to the shattered lives of the surviving members of the Wilmington Ten, and to the family members Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright, Anne Sheppard and Connie Tindall all of whom are deceased.

And we also hope, and pray, that the state of North Carolina, and the nation, have learned from this great tragedy of racial injustice. If America is to live up to the true meaning of its creed, that all men and women are created equal before the eyes of GOD, then we must fight, and fight hard for the integrity of our criminal justice system.

For if we don’t, then none of us are safe from those who would seek to destroy the fundamental liberties of citizens who work only to make this nation the land of promise and freedom that many before us sacrificed so much for future generations to enjoy.

On behalf of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and the NNPA, thank you to the NAACP, Change.org, and all who assisted us in this vital quest for justice.

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I am delighted to see that the city that I grew up in has evolved in a manner that represents all that is good in america. Wilmington has changed so very much from what it used to be. The racial hatred barely exist anymore. Any day of the week you can walk up and down the streets and see people of all nationalities laughing playing and loving one another. The dream of Martin Luther King has finally been realized. God bless each and everyone of you wonderful Wilmingtonians that have made his dream a reality. Keep up the good work that all of you do and make Wilmington greater.
Thank You,
OMG Obama's My Guy

Unless that "person" happens to be a innocent 19 year old white student, or a Chinese deliverly man.

I guess it is time to reopen the cases to see who did the killing and who burned down the buildings.

However, the DA and WPD will not even think of this. I think the NAACP should push this if they want justice.

http://news.google.com/newspapersnid=1454&dat=19770512&id=wrUsAAAAIBAJ&s...
MEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5424,2033895
May 12, 1977 Wilmington Star News - Burgaw - "Allen R. Hall Wednesday angrily denounced the Wilmington 10 arson-conspiracy convictions as a frame-up and said he acted alone in burning down a white-owned grocery store during racial unrest in 1971."

Continued on Page 2A http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1454&dat=
19770512&id=wrUsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KBMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5424,2033895

A new investigation and trial in this case would be a waste of the taxpayers money. The guilty ones were let go.

GASTONIA, N.C. — http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/gastonia-lawyer-says-he-rammed-cars-beca...
"A Gaston County defense attorney is accused of repeatedly ramming a car on a busy road in Gastonia early Thursday.The man, who for almost 40 years has come to court and taken the attorney's chair, is now in jail clothes speaking in his own defense. Jay Stroud says he's battling mental illness.
"I took my medication faithfully," he said tearfully to the judge. "I am no danger to myself or anyone."
But Gastonia police reports indicate he was a danger on Hudson Boulevard when witnesses say just before 5 a.m. he repeatedly swerved to hit a car driving beside him.
The other driver and a separate witness told police that when they came to a stop light, Stroud then rammed the truck in front of him several times.
The lawyer argued to the judge that the other drivers were out to get him.
"I was the victim. Satan was with them and the other officer," Stroud said.

Crimes were committed so the case should be re-opened.
If it can be proven who did it they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If it's the very same folks? Fine by me, just give 'em a fairer trial. If it's somebody different? That's OK too.
Just treat it like any other case - that's all we ask
Vog

I'm the daughter of one of the 10. Let me tell you simple minded clowns something right
Now my father suffered for years with this stigma of being a felon. Unless you were all
There, them you know nonthing. My father is not a violent person. Neither are the rest
Of them.do you honestly think they would have went through all of this if they knew
They were guilty? If it was you or a family member of yours you would have wanted the same thing for them.leave them alone.simple clowns is what you are no sense of history.no common sense at all for that matter!

And yet you were not there either. I take it you know nothing as well? Your father was as guilty as the rest of them. Karma will catch up sooner or later.

They have been waiting for years for a Democrate Governor who was pissed off with the State and they found one. They are guilty as sin and everyone knows it. I hope they reopen the case and charge them again.

It all goes back to what happened in Wilmington, NC in 1898 with the Wilmington Massacre (the mass killing and exile of African-Americans in the city of Wilmington and also ushering in Jim Crow Segregation throughout North Carolina). Go to www.facebook.com/wilmingtononfire to check out the upcoming documentary WILMINGTON ON FIRE to find out more! Plus, check out the teaser trailer at: http://youtu.be/9toV2-zDWkA

The pardon of the so-called Wilmington 10 comes as no surprise to me. You can't do much in return to somebody that has nothing to lose. I too lived through this era in Wilmington, and i clearly remember the tension always increasing in High School and in our town whenever Ben Chavis was due to arrive. Like many others who have already commented I too know that someone committed these crimes, and i would like to see the case re-opened before our history is changed forever.
One of the memories i will carry with me all of my life is that of those black children who were taken out of the familiar surroundings and schools and forced by their parents and others to move to what was then all white schools. Some of these kids were beaten on their way to school and on their way home. Many of them were harassed during class. But, they persevered. Many of these people are doctors, lawyers and very highly regarded citizens all over the world. Why do the people who commit crimes always get the NAACP'S attention, and not those who have worked hard and have endured many hardships?
It is my understanding that the author Tim Tyson is going to write a book about the so-called Wilmington 10. He seems to be a very intelligent and honest man. I only wish he would write a book about those blacks that have done wonderful things with their lives, and not the criminals and terrorists such as Ben Chavis.

I witnessed it at Williston as the minority of white children were constantly harassed, laughed at and booed in the gym when Meadowlark Lemon, a native of Wilmington, came to town with the Harlem Globetrotters to try help smooth things over.

i was at williston and i don't remember in laugh at any white kids be harassed or laughed at.Iremember Meadowlark at Brogden Hall and everyone enjoying them.Could be wrong just don't remember them coming to Williston>beside i don't believe Meadow Lark would have allowed that.

The Harlem Globetrotters did indeed give a demonstration in the gym at Williston. They were doing some kind of activity where students were randomly picked from the audience to come onto the floor. Whenever a white student was picked they were booed. I can still see the face of an overweight white girl with red hair who was laughed at unmercifully. There was nothing anybody could do about it except try to ignore it because tensions were so high. Some things you never forget.

Kids laugh atover wieght kids now,its not right but they do it.You are right about one thing,some things you never forget.....

It is fitting that the worst governor in North Carolina's history would make such a decision. I am glad that this idiot is no longer involved in making decisions for our state. I hope that she never gets another good night's rest after denying justice to the Wilminton 10's victims.

Did anyone ask Mike, or the Police that were shot during the riot what they thought about the Pardon? Thought not!

A fitting gesture from such a horrible representative of our state, now becomes Bev Perdue's pathetic legacy.

This was avengement for the Riots of 1898 in Wilmington, the more recent murder of Henry Marrow in Oxford, NC, and disgruntlement over school desegregation in Wilmington which turned Williston Highschool into a junior high. The Civil Rights Movement brought on more militance as the Burn Baby Burn mindset swept across the country, paralleling anti-Vietnam war protests, a general anarchy that permeated many cities, a terrible time in this country. Somebod(ies) thought setting fires across the city of Wilmington would achieve their goal of punishing the city for perceived injustices; the New Hanover County Schools Administration building, Mike's Grocery and more, terrorizing Wilmington citizens for 9 months and longer, leaving one man shot dead in broad daylight, two unarmed Pinkerton men shot dead in the halls of Williston School which was the epicenter of youths rioting throughout the 1970-71 school year as well as in other schools who were led by out of towners who came with the purpose of exacting revenge and yes, achieving notice for themselves. Notice they got, but the wrong kind they say. People may claim innocence in life and people may believe it because they think it couldn't have happened the way it did, but happen it did. Some of us who were there know just how bad that war was. We suffered but there is no justice for us or the dead. Those somebod(ies), nobody has ever said who, took revenge into their own hands, but "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord". Those somebod(ies) will answer to the Lord God Almighty in the hereafter. They know who they are.

FleetGhost, I agree with you full heartily about this situation. People like Ben Chavis came here and did exactly what he wanted to do. They are walking tall right now, but will pay when they get to the Pearly Gates. This subject has been a thorn in my side for the forty years, because one of the Pinkerton guards that was killed at Williston was my cousin Donald Flowers. There never has been any justice for our family because the guilty culprit was never captured.

No one in the press ever speaks the names of the men who were killed at Williston. R.I.P. Donald Flowers. Do you know the other man's name? I do not forget them, nameless as they have been to me all these years. I have prayed for their souls, for there but for the grace of God went I as they were found right outside my classroom door which was of significance to me. I always felt they took bullets meant for me as I was harassed terribly the entire year I was at Williston, for what reason? Because I was perceived as a privileged white woman? That's as far as the thinking went, no appreciation for the fact that my gg grandfather trekked down from Ohio on Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War to give slaves their freedom. Very, very tragic for these Pinkerton men who were just doing their job guarding a school. So very sorry for your loss. I know your family has suffered.

i think they were there and did exactly what they were accused of.
they got a pardon from a weak governor thats ok, their lives were ruined anyway ! pardon means nothing !

What is wrong with us? They were convicted and it got overturned, The overturning court ruled that not only did the DA not have any witnesses they had no case.
THEN the higher court ruled there was all sorts of nefarious things going on in the court room.
If this was a predominantly white group and the conviction got overturned many here would be saying "I told you so" and "the black jury was out to get the white folks". The black folks would be saying "the white guys got it over turned because they're white".

From a strictly legal standpoint what has transpired is EXACTLY what should have happened. A higher court overturned the convictions and the Governor pardoned the now "non" criminals.
Now the state AG's should go after the prosecutor and anyone else involved in developing this case if there's a suspicion of falsifying information.
This is how the judiciary is supposed to work.
I dislike Bev as much as anyone else - but she is right in this case.

Vog

The judge that overturned the case decided that the prosecution's main witness had been incompetent as a witness. This was without having met the man or had a proper evaluation of any kind. The other ruling in the appeal stated that the prosecution didn't turn over all evidence in discovery. The document he withheld contained notes he made as he interviewed the witness. The prosecutor is not required to turn over anything that contains his written notes in the case. The judge was completely out of line in his rulings. Not to mention, that it was a federal judge who had no jurisdiction to even hear a state case. They were let out on a technicality by someone who had no proper authority to hear the case. That does not in any way mean that they are innocent of the crimes.

I wonder if I could get a pardon from her for all my crimes?

Now get ready for the next step....lawsuits. Isn't that really what all this is about? Money? Get ready to dig deep into your pockets taxpayers, and don't say I didn't warn you.

Isn't it heartwarming to know these clowns can now legally carry weapons again?

And GuestReality....you nailed it right on the head.......I would be willing to bet the farm that ALL of them have retained lawyers for "compensation" lawsuits....this is FAR from over.....each one of them will FOREVER have their NAME associated with the horrible crimes that happened during that time period. The VICTIMS will NEVER be "compensated". Carry your "Pardon Letter" with you everywhere you go.... because you will FOREVER be THE WILMINGTON TEN....CRIMINALS!!!!!

Once again, Bev proves she doesn't have walking around sense.

Let me see.... Ten Black People burn a white person's building down. If that was the other way around, it would be a "Hate Crime".