Wilmington 10 Pardoned

NAACP

Great news, Curmilus.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced on Monday a pardon for the Wilmington 10 — nine men and one woman who spent nearly a decade in jail for crimes they did not commit.

This is the kind of work we do, Curmilus. Led by North Carolina NAACP State Conference President Rev. William Barber, the NAACP worked diligently alongside The Wilmington 10 Pardon of Innocence Project, the Wilmington Journal and the National Newspaper Publishers Association and partners throughout North Carolina and around the country to shed light on the case of the Wilmington 10, and it paid off.

And it wouldn’t have been possible without our NAACP members. That’s why I’m asking you to celebrate this incredible victory by joining the NAACP today.

The pardoning of the Wilmington 10 is a crucial chapter in a story of more than four decades spent trying to right a great injustice. These civil rights activists created powerful enemies in their fight to stop school segregation. Rather than being honored as civil rights heroes, they were hounded as criminals. In 1971, the Wilmington 10 were framed for conspiracy and arson, and sentenced to a combined 282 years in jail. Then, dedicated civil rights activists went to work, raising awareness about the blatant prosecutorial misconduct and witness-statement fabrication that led to this wrongful conviction.

The convictions of the Wilmington 10 were overturned in 1980. Last year, the seven surviving members of the group petitioned Governor Perdue for a pardon and restitution for their years in jail.

And our victory sends a strong message that — no matter where or when injustice occurs — we will stop at nothing to bring it to light and right the committed wrongs.

The Wilmington 10 won’t be the last. These are fights worth winning. Please join the NAACP today, so we can have these same great successes in the future:

http://action.naacp.org/celebrate-wilmington-join-today

We look forward to working with you. Happy new year. Let’s make 2013 a great one, together.

Thank you.

Ben

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP

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Gov. Perdue Signs Historic Pardon of Innocence for the Wilmington 10 Press Release From The NAACP NC

 

NC NAACP Letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

31 December 2012

 

For More Information:           Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137

                                                Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700

                                                Atty. Al McSurely, Communications Chair, 919-381-0856

 

Gov. Perdue Signs Historic Pardon of Innocence for the Wilmington 10

NAACP News Conference Held in Raleigh December 31, 2012

at Martin Street Baptist Church

 

RALEIGH – "Today the spirit of justice was awakened in the Capitol of North Carolina," said Rev. Barber. "Governor Beverly Perdue has signed a Pardon of Innocence for nine men and one woman known as ‘The Wilmington 10.’ These young people were non-violent protestors fighting for educational equality. They were framed, wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in connection to a fire bombing in Wilmington, NC over 40 years ago. These unjust convictions were due to racist manipulation of the court system and extraordinary and blatant racially motivated prosecutorial misconduct. A Federal Court overturned these convictions over 30 years ago but until today, NC had fallen short. In the last few days of her governorship, Governor Perdue has walked us into a season of epiphany."

 

            "In this season, NC has finally had a revelation and with this revelation comes a continued need for redemption and repentance from the stain of injustice. Not only will the civil rights and human rights communities honor this act, but history itself will record this day as groundbreaking. On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Governor Perdue has proclaimed a contemporary emancipation for these freedom fighters, Benjamin Chavis, Connie Tindall, Marvin Patrick, Wayne Moore, Reginald Epps, Jerry Jacobs, James McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, William Wright, Jr., and Ann Shepard, whose fight for justice will never be forgotten. These pardons are not only for North Carolina but also for the nation and for the world. We honor the Governor’s noble, courageous and righteous decision today and we commend her heart’s steadfast commitment to justice."

 

            Special thanks is extended to: The National Newspaper Publishers Association, The Wilmington Journal, Attorney James Ferguson, Attorney Irving Joyner, Attorney Al McSurely, Cash Michaels, Marry Thatch, Dr. Timothy Tyson, officers and members of the NAACP, and the thousands of persons who signed petitions, prayed and pushed for this dream to become reality.

 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. 

 

 

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Wilmington 10

 

Breaking News – Gov. Perdue issues Pardon of Innocence for Wilmington 10

Response: It has been a long time coming. It is just a damn shame how black folks have endured such racist happenings back in the day. Now this was in my life time I was born in 1962 and this happened in 1971. And some black folks act as if they have arrived. How in the hell can you do that when your brothers and sisters have suffered these types of injustices like the Wilmington 10.

I am honored to have been the 1st Vice President of the Rocky Mount Branch of the NAACP in 1993 when Benjamin Chavis former National NAACP Executive Director came to Greenville North Carolina for our State Convention. I took a picture with him along with Andre Knight and Lewis Turner. I had the picture enlarged to hang on my wall.

Lewis Turner was married to Ann Shepard in the 70’s.

Thank you Governor Perdue for doing the right thing.

Just spoke to Lewis Turner and he gave me some history about what happened during the time of Ann Shepard going to jail. He will share what they had to do about her children during her transition to jail. Going to meet with him on tomorrow to do a DVD.

Curmilus Dancy II
The Political Agitator
Life Fully Paid Member NAACP

RALEIGH, N.C. –Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue issued pardons Monday to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted 40 years ago in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution that led to accusations that the state was holding political prisoners.

Perdue issued pardons of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman who were given prison sentences totaling nearly 300 years for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store after police shot a black teenager. (More)

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Wilmington 10

 

Editorial – For Wilmington 10, Gov. Perdue has the chance to right an injustice four decades old – StarNews Online

Before Gov. Bev Perdue leaves office, she has the opportunity to close the book on one of the ugliest chapters in recent Wilmington history: the convictions of nine black men and a white woman whose trial trampled justice and their constitutional rights. Their case is why “the Wilmington 10” are well known far beyond the confines of Southeastern North Carolina. (More)

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Wilmington 10

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Pardon the Wilmington 10 – News & Observer

As Gov. Bev Perdue winds down her final days in office, the smoke of a fire long ago returns.

It’s from 1971 when nights of racial unrest in Wilmington led to the arrest and trial of nine young black men and one white woman who came to be known as the Wilmington 10. They were charged with firebombing a white-owned grocery store in a black neighborhood and then shooting at firefighters who responded. (More)

Read more:

Wilmington 10

News Release: National NAACP Passes NC NAACP-Initiated Resolution Supporting Pardons for Wilmington 10

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NC NAACP Letterhead

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 4, 2012

 

For More Information:     Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137

                                        Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700

 

North Carolina NAACP Brings Resolution Supporting Pardons for Wilmington Ten to NAACP National Board of Directors; Passes Unanimously

 

            DURHAM – On May 19, 2012, the NAACP National Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution to do all it can to persuade NC Governor Beverly Perdue to grant full pardons to the ten young people wrongfully imprisoned in Wilmington in 1972. 

 

            "The National NAACP’s support for full pardons for the Wilmington 10 adds great weight to the growing movement for some measure of justice for these ten freedom fighters and their families. They were locked up for the best years of their lives because they stood up for the oppressed and marginalized portions of our society," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. "North Carolina cannot go on without addressing this total violation of the rights of these ten individuals and the racially-biased system that put them in jail in the first place."

 

            Dr. Barber, a national NAACP Board Member, and veteran civil rights attorney Al McSurely crafted the resolution language. Barber, who is also chair of the national NAACP’s Political Action Committee, asked NAACP Chairwoman Roslyn Brock to allow for the proposed resolution to be heard, which it was without objection.

 

Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, another member of the national NAACP Board and 1st Vice President of the NC NAACP, introduced the motion. After a powerful presentation by Ms. Coleman, the resolution passed unanimously. When people hear the facts of the case, back in the early 1970’s, they are outraged at this egregious miscarriage of justice.

 

            In 1971, the United Church of Christ asked 24-year-old Rev. Benjamin Chavis to go to Wilmington to help other young black activists organize for educational, economic and social equality. Two years before, the white-controlled School Board shut down Williston High School, the African-American high school, to retaliate against the federal court-ordered desegregation (a case brought by the NAACP).  Williston’s closing shocked the black community.  By 1971 this vengeful act still caused pain and anger in the black community.

 

             Wilmington had become a near police state, with white vigilante groups riding through the black neighborhoods, shooting up churches and homes. It was a repeat of the terrorist attacks on the Black community in 1898, documented so thoroughly by the official 1898 Commission.  Instead of stopping the terrorists roaming free in the city, it was decided at the highest level to frame some of the young activists who were working to enforce the desegregation court orders. When a white business was burned, police found a couple of witnesses who said they saw Benjamin Chavis and some other young activists near the scene of the fire.  Based on this, ten young people were arrested and sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison.  After an international movement developed to free them, the Federal Court of Appeals overturned the convictions in 1980.  The appellate decision found the arrests to be racially and politically motivated, and a deceitful attack on the ten young activists.  Despite this strong decision, the State of North Carolina has never pardoned any of the Wilmington 10 of the bogus charges.

 

            Two weeks ago, May 17th, the Wilmington 10 legal team, which includes Irving Joyner, NC NAACP Legal Redress Chair, and James Ferguson, both of whom have been involved with the case since the 1970’s, filed with Governor Perdue a petition for pardons of each of the Wilmington 10.  The Resolution adopted by the National NAACP completes the story:

 

WHEREAS in September 1972 ten young North Carolinians were tried and convicted of major felonies in New Hanover County;

 

AND WHEREAS after the dust settled, it turned out their main crime was trying to obey the law, namely the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle the separate and unequal school systems of New Hanover County;

 

AND WHEREAS the young people were Benjamin Chavis, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, Connie Tindall, James McKoy, Willie  Vereen, Reginald Epps, Anne Shepard-Turner, William "Joe" Wright, and Jerry Jacobs, and were popularly called "The Wilmington Ten";

 

AND WHEREAS in 1980, after the young people had spent many years in prison, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled they had been victims of outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct, Chavez v. State of North Carolina, 637 F.2d 213, using language all too familiar to those of us who believe in racial justice in North Carolina, saying: "The prosecution’s failure to produce . . . to defense counsel the ‘amended’ statement and the record of the hospitalization of the state’s key witness and the restrictions upon cross-examination of the key witness and another about favorable treatment which might have induced favorable testimony require us to overturn the convictions";

 

AND WHEREAS such gross prosecutorial misconduct is too often associated with the trials of poor minorities and civil rights activists;

 

AND WHEREAS each time this linkage is validated by higher courts, it widens the breach in our human family, and aggravates the hurts of past indignities;

 

AND WHEREAS our constitution does not empower the courts to repair and heal such breaches and wounds, but rather places such acts of human compassion in the Governor’s hands;

 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT REOLVED that the National NAACP will do all in its power to help its North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches and its broad Historic Thousands on Jones Street Coalition in convincing the Hon. Governor Beverly Perdue to grant a full pardon to the Wilmington Ten, and become, as the Prophet Isaiah would say, "a repairer of the breach."

 

 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.  

 

 

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News Alert: NC NAACP Petitions Governor to Pardon the Wilmington 10

NC NAACP Letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 17, 2012

 

For More Information:           Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137

                                              Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700

 

DURHAM – The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP is releasing a letter petitioning Governor Beverly Perdue to pardon the Wilmington 10.  The NC NAACP joined members of the Wilmington 10 and their attorneys for a news conference at the State Capitol on Thursday morning.

 

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Download in PDF

 

May 17, 2012

 

Hon. Beverly Eaves Perdue

Governor of North Carolina

20301 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

 

RE:  Petition to Pardon the Wilmington Ten

 

Dear Governor Perdue:

 

In September 1972 ten young North Carolinians were tried and convicted of major felonies in New Hanover County.  After the dust settled, it turned out their main crime was trying to obey the Law, namely the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle the separate and unequal school systems of New Hanover County.  The young people were called the Wilmington Ten:  Ben Chavis, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, Connie Tindall, James McKoy, Willie Vereen, Reginald Epps, Anne Shepard-Turner, William "Joe" Wright, and Jerry Jacobs.

 

In 1980, after many had served 8 years in prison, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled they had been victims of outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct. Chavez v. State of North Carolina, 637 F.2d 213.  In language that has become too familiar to those of us who believe in racial justice in North Carolina, the Appeals Court found: "The prosecution’s failure to produce . . . to defense counsel the ‘amended’ statement and the record of the hospitalization of the state’s key witness and the restrictions upon cross-examination of the key witness and another about favorable treatment which might have induced favorable testimony require us to overturn the convictions."

 

Such gross prosecutorial misconduct is often associated with the trials of poor minorities and civil rights activists.  Each time this linkage is validated by higher courts, it widens the breach in our human family. . . it aggravates the hurts of past indignities.  Our system does not empower our courts to repair and heal such breaches and wounds.  Our constitution, instead, places such acts of human compassion in your hands. 

 

Therefore, on behalf of the North Carolina Conference of 125 adult, college and youth NAACP Branches across the state, I ask you to pardon the Wilmington Ten.  "And you shall be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12.

 

Yours in the Spirit of Truth and Justice,

Barber Signature 

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President                                                  

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP

 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.