The civil rights group finds notes from the trial's prosecutor indicating racist tactics were at play when selecting jurors that convicted the activists.
The NAACP has presented North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue with new evidence requesting that the Wilmington 10 be pardoned for their charges.
The group was convicted of arson and conspiracy in the 1972 firebombing of a white-owned grocery store, and the NAACP says trial notes from the prosecutor show how racism tainted the trial and its jury selection. The nine men and one woman received lengthy prison sentences ranging from 15 to 34 years, even though no one was injured in the incident.
Their convictions were finally overturned in 1980 by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the NAACP has launched an online petition to have them exonerated for the crime.
"Forty years ago, ten young activists were falsely accused and framed for crimes they did not commit. And though they all went on to become leaders in their community — their names were never cleared," the petition states. "The state of North Carolina has let forty years pass without clearing the names of the Wilmington Ten — it is high time for justice to be served. Sign your name to the NAACP petition asking for Governor Perdue to pardon the Wilmington Ten and clear their names once and for all."
The Huffington Post writes:
"The petition comes as the NAACP on Tuesday revealed trial notes by prosecutor Jay Stroud that the civil rights group said show the assistant district attorney trying to select jurors who were KKK members and 'uncle Tom' types. Stroud also wrote of weighing pros and cons of a mistrial, later granted based on his claim of illness. A second trial resulted in the convictions.
'We rarely get such direct evidence of prosecutorial racism in jury selection,' said the Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. 'The prosecutor is ethically bound to put justice over winning. District attorneys represent all the people in North Carolina, not just white people in North Carolina.[']
Barber said the new evidence is so powerful that he believes it would have persuaded the federal appeals court that overturned the convictions in 1980 to recommend charges against the prosecutor. Stroud couldn't be located for comment."
Read the entire story here.
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(Photo: Raleigh News & Observer/ MCT /LANDOV)