Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Wilmington Ten Are Innocent and Should be Pardoned


29 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. Irv Joyner, Legal Redress Chair,


            The NC NAACP has carefully reviewed all of the court opinions, supporting documents, contents of the infamous "Stroud Files" and other legally significant materials in the case of the Wilmington Ten. They all support the conclusion that the Wilmington Ten were not involved in any criminal conduct associated with the burning of Mike's Grocery or any other Wilmington businesses in February 1971.  

            Allen Hall, the only person who claimed to have witnessed any unlawful conduct, recanted his testimony under oath. Two other supporting witnesses also confessed under oath that they perjured themselves during the trial of the Wilmington Ten.  Official documents obtained from the New Hanover County District Attorney's office confirmed much of the illegal conduct of the Prosecutor, including his efforts to pack juries with biased, "KKK"-type jurors and to fraudulently and corruptly obtain a mistrial because the jury selection in the first trial had placed ten African-Americans and two Whites in the jury box.

            Our attorneys have carefully studied the 1980 opinion of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which concluded, after an exhaustive examination of the court records, that the Prosecutor and Judge had purposely used or allowed the use of perjured testimony to infect the trial proceedings.  In doing so, they violated the fundamental constitutional rights of the Wilmington Ten.  The Appeals Court, therefore, reversed their convictions and the State of North Carolina has chosen not to re-try any of them.

            When viewing these uncontested facts, we are led to the only reasonable conclusion: there is no evidence that did or can prove that any of the Wilmington Ten members committed any crimes in Wilmington during the weekend of February 5-7, 1971.

            As a matter of law, these conclusions overwhelmingly support our legal position that the Wilmington Ten are actually innocent.   During the last few days, the suggestion has been made that the Wilmington Ten now must prove their innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. Such a demand at this late hour is no more than a cynical distraction from the task of the Governor to grant Pardons of Innocence. We know the "TEN" can carry their burden of innocence.  We have already offered compelling evidence of their actual innocence to the Governor.  

In our criminal justice system it is the state, not the defendants, that must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendants' guilt. We reject last-minute suggestions that this burden of proof should be turned upside down, and the Wilmington Ten defendants now must prove beyond a reasonable doubt their innocence. The notion that they, in the closing hours of the pardon review, must prove anything other than what has already been presented to the Governor for her review, is ungodly.  

            From our vantage point, the case for the actual innocence of the Wilmington Ten has already been made.  The Governor should apply the same standard for issuing this pardon as has been applied in past pardon petitions.


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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