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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.

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