Take a minute to call Gov. Bev Perdue and encourage her to issue a pardon for the “Wilmington 10” who, 40 years ago, were convicted of an arson conspiracy during racially polarized conflicts over desegregating the city’s schools. No physical evidence tied the 8 youth and 2 adults to the crime; the only “eyewitness” was bribed for his testimony that he later recanted; other witnesses were also given favors and later recanted; and the conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually threw out the conviction because of gross misconduct by the prosecutors. Call Gov. Perdue’s constituent service line (800-662-7952) and leave a voice message this weekend or early next week, urging her to issue the pardon.
The young members of the Wilmington 10 served years in jail before their release, had their dreamed-of-lives shattered, and continue to suffer indignities for a crime they didn’t commit. New evidence discovered this year reveals the prosecutor engineered a mistrial to escape the judge and jury in the first trial, and also applied a racist filter to strike jurors from jury service, labeling them “Good. KKK” or “B – NO!” More evidence of the prosecutor’s misconduct and the defendants’ innocence has led the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Wilmington Journal, Wilmington Star-News, New York Times, and other media to call for the pardon. Here’s a video report from Democracy Now on the case. Four of the Wilmington 10 have died; it’s past time for a governor to do the right thing for them, for justice and for North Carolina.