People across the nation are joining the effort to urge outgoing Gov. Bev. Perdue to pardon the Wilmington Ten, whose racially-charged convictions more than four decades ago, remain a black eye for the state.
In 1972, 10 young activists – nine Black Males and one White female – were falsely convicted of conspiracy and the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store in Wilmington, during the height of racial tensions, which erupted into protests proclaiming racial discrimination which occurred during the desegregation of the local school system.
As a result of these convictions, the 10 were collectively sentenced to 282 years in prison, and, individually, served between four and six years in prison. These convictions and sentences sparked national protests and gained international attention and condemnation. In 1977, the three State’s witnesses, who testified against the Ten, recanted their testimonies in court. The CBS News program, “60 Minutes” then exposed the State’s evidence as “fabricated” by prosecutors. In 1980, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions based upon that prosecutor and the trial judge allowed the introduction of perjured testimony and withheld critical evidence which defense attorneys were entitled to receive.
The frame-up was exposed, but the State of North Carolina has never declared the Ten innocent nor have the fabricated charges been dismissed against them. Though freed and cleared, they’ve had to live out their lives under an unjust cloud.
A petition has been started at Change.Org (www.wilmingtonjournal.com/wilmington-ten-pardons-of-innocence-project/). The deadline to sign the petition is Nov. 30. You can also write letters to the governor at:
The Honorable Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor of North Carolina
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603