Tuesday, December 11, 2012


By Cash Michaels
Staff reporter

            The Warren County Free Clinic, a vital resource for thousands of uninsured minimal-income residents in Warren and Vance counties since 2006, is in trouble. Because of state budget cuts, the clinic may have to drastically cut services, or worse, close in several months, officials there say.
            Currently, the free clinic is operating five days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seeing on average 25 patients a day. It has a patient-base (active and inactive) of 4,025, with over 3,000 that are active. It is staff primarily with volunteers from the medical community, faith-base organizations and local businesses, among others.
            Low–income residents receive services dealing with diabetes, high blood pressure and other afflictions. They also get preventive care with clinical breast exams, pap smears, once-a-month eye exams, AIDS virus testing, vitamin D12 testing, and instructions to learn how to eat better.
            The free clinic was doing onsite lab testing before funding ran out.
            Most of those served are not the Medicaid or “public assistance” population normally thought of as needing help, instead, they are working persons with little or no health insurance,” the clinic’s website states.
Warren County supplies the building the clinic operates in for a nominal annual fee. Part of its funding comes from various foundations, several local churches, Maria Parham Hospital through the Duke Endowment, and a three-year grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation.
The NC Association of Free Clinics has also contributed.
            But if the free clinic does not get sufficient funding in the next sixty days, says
Daria Holcomb, co-founder and board secretary, its ability to maintain its current level of services will be severely crippled.
            “We’re the number one provider of primary care for the uninsured in Warren County,” Holcomb says.
The Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly cut funding to the Office of Rural Health, affecting all rural free clinics in the state, forcing them to now scramble to survive. The operational budget for 2011 was $384,000, Mary Sommerville, the free clinic’s executive director says.
“We were cut $150,000,” says Sommerville.
            And they’re not allowed to apply for any federal grants, thus severely limiting funding options.
            If funding isn’t restored to full level in 60 days, officials at the clinic say services will either be cut back severely, or even worse, the clinic may not operate at all.
Rev. Dr. Oris P. Fields, Jr. is both a board member, and a patient of two years at the Warren County Free Clinic. He says it’s a vital service to the community that must be saved because “there are no medical facilities in the county.”
            “Most of the people, if they need medical care, have to go to Henderson, Duke (Durham), Raleigh, or over to Roanoke Rapids,” Rev. Fields said, adding that if the clinic were to close, he would personally have to wait a year to turn 65 so that he could then take advantage of Medicare.
            But that would mean waiting a year to get the critical treatment that Rev. Fields needs because he can’t afford the $90.00 per visit he would otherwise have to pay to go elsewhere.
            Fields says there are Warren County residents who are younger – many of whom have lost their jobs – who fall into the same category. With Warren County being one of the state’s poorest, Rev. Fields says, “It’s a no-win situation.”
            Because of redistricting, the free clinic has lost Democratic state Sen. Doug Berger, their strongest advocate. But Executive Director Mary Sommerville says its board is planning various measures to publicize its plight, and seek public support in having their budget cuts restored.
            The Free Clinic has tremendously improved the health and well-being of many Warren County citizens due to greater accessibility to critical outpatient health care services,” says Linda Worth, Warren County manager.



                                           JUDGE CHERI BEASLEY


Gov. Bev Perdue Wednesday appointed Cheri Beasley to the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Beasley, currently a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson.

“I am thrilled to appoint Cheri to our state’s highest court.” said Gov. Perdue. “She has excelled both as a District Court judge and as a judge on the Court of Appeals. She will make a superb justice on the Supreme Court.”

Beasley was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008.  Prior to that, she served as a District Court judge in the Twelfth Judicial District from 1999 until 2008. Before going on the bench, Beasley worked as an assistant public defender in Fayetteville for five years.

“I am honored that Governor Perdue has appointed me to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina,” Beasley said. “I am grateful for her confidence in my ability to render fair and impartial decisions while serving on our state’s highest Court.  Throughout my years of service on the judiciary, I have always considered it a privilege to serve the people of our state.” 

Beasley has been active in numerous professional organizations, including the North Carolina Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of District Court Judges, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the Cumberland County Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association and Tenth Judicial District Bar, the Cumberland County Association of Defense Attorneys, and the Fayetteville Bench and Bar. She has also served as a lecturer in Appellate Advocacy and Trial Advocacy at the University of North Carolina School of Law and the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Beasley received her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, and her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University/Douglass College. 

                                                      W-ed – SAD, SAD, SAD

            As the clock counts down to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s decision whether or not to grant pardons of innocence to all of the Wilmington Ten – and we certainly hope she does – we’ve been noticing something expected, yet peculiar.
            The more we make our case about the innocence of the ten civil rights activists who were falsely tried, convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit, the more crazy people seem to come out of the woodwork.
            For instance, recently some group called “Citizens for Justice” put an ad in the local newspaper asking “Gov. Purdue” not to pardon the Wilmington Ten. Then they click off a number of reasons they don’t want to see it happen, none of which speak to any credible evidence that any of the Wilmington Ten were guilty of any crimes.
            And then they want someone to take a lie detector test, or something, to prove that our evidence showing how prosecutor Jay Stroud tried to racially gerrymander the jury was true.
            These “justice” folks apparently didn’t read the very newspaper they placed their dumb ad in. Stroud has already admitted that the files we first exposed last September are indeed his, and in his handwriting.
            We guess the folks who don’t even know how to spell the governor’s name didn’t catch that article. And yet they know for a fact that the Wilmington Ten were, are, and always will be guilty of crimes they did not commit.
            Sad, sad, sad.
            Then there’s that retired Wilmington police officer who “knows” exactly what happened on the night of Feb. 6, 1971 – when Mike’s Grocery was firebombed – even though the man didn’t join the Wilmington Police force until May 1971.
            To listen to this man, you’d have to believe that they did something wrong that night, even if he can’t prove it. They had to have done something wrong. They were following Ben Chavis. You know, that radical. How could we ever think about pardoning people like this?
            Oh, and by the way. This retired cop “knows” that something is wrong with the Stroud files. After all, the NAACP and that law professor from North Carolina Central University is involved.
            So it must be phony.
            Sad, sad, sad.
            And please, let us not forget Mayor Bill Saffo.
            This is an elected official who attended the Feb. 3rd, 2011 event at UNC-Wilmington commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Wilmington Ten, made a quick speech where he openly apologized to the Wilmington Ten for the injustice that they suffered at the hands of Wilmington police and the judicial system; and then he read a proclamation denoting how the city should learn the lessons of the Wilmington Ten.
            Great event! And great leadership as well.
            Or at least we thought.
            When the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project included an unedited copy of not just Mayor Saffo’s strong remarks, but also the entire memorable event on DVD for the governor to see, along with the over 14,000 petition names, Saffo objected, saying that the project was using his words “out of context.”
            Saffo says he wasn’t referencing the Wilmington Ten’s guilt or innocence. Only the fact that they were sent to prison too long.
            Not that they were sent to prison at all, but rather that they had been imprisoned for too long.
            Talk about sad…Mayor Saffo disappointed us greatly.
            It was sadly very apparent that Mayor Saffo had to squirm out of his own words. To think that the mayor has had all of this time to refute his own words caught on video, and reprinted in a daily newspaper for the world to see, and only now, when the two-year old video is given to the governor as part of the pardons of innocence project, does Saffo get cold feet, and starts doing a reverse moonwalk away from his own words.
            Yes, Mayor Saffo is sad, sad, SAD!
            You’re starting to see all of this weak opposition to justice for the Wilmington Ten because our supporters, particularly Rev. William Barber of the NCNAACP, have been making the case that what happened to the Wilmington Ten forty years ago was a travesty of justice.
            People don’t want to hear that. They want blood for the violence that ensued on Wilmington’s streets. They want someone to forever pay for it. Problem is they arrested and framed the wrong someone’s.
            So we want to make clear to our community, readers and supporters – we are here to stand for justice for the Wilmington Ten. Our evidence is powerful, and our will is unbending. Forty years of suffering must cease for the Wilmington Ten. Four of them have died. Three of the remaining six are in ill health.
            We are too close to the goal, too close to changing history.
            We know that Almighty GOD is with us in this effort, and anyone who doesn’t understand that…well we only have three words for you.
            Sad, sad, sad!


            [WILMINGTON] When the GOP-dominated NC General Assembly convenes in January, House Speaker Thom Tillis confirms that one of the very first measures lawmakers will tackle will be instituting a new voter ID law. Outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed the last law requiring a photo identification at the polls passed by Republican lawmakers. Now that Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory will take over January 1st, Tillis is assuring GOP supporters that the Legislature will quickly pass one now, and McCrory will sign it.

            [FAYETTEVILLE] Fayetteville State University has received a $100,000 donation from the Smithfield – Lusker Foundation for student scholarships at the historically black university. The scholarships are for the children and grandchildren of Smithfield Foods employees who also attend FSU. A spokesperson for the company says it’s important for private industry to support higher public education.

            [RALEIGH] David Parker, the embattled chairman of the NC Democratic Party, has announced that he will not run for re-election next February. “I have enjoyed my two years of service to our State and to the Democratic Party.  There is much work to be done on the vital issues of good government, public education and job creation in North Carolina and I look forward to continuing to work to better our State in the years to come," Parker said in a statement Wednesday.


            The Wake County Board of Education, by a 5-4 Democrat-led vote, adopted a new student assignment plan for the 2013-14 school year this week.
Under the plan, every student will be assigned to a school based on his or her home address. To offer continued stability for families, the plan includes minimal reassignments, as well as the opportunity for students to stay with their current schools if they are happy there. The plan offers sibling priority and families also will have options for traditional-calendar schools and year-round schools.
Any student who enrolls in WCPSS for the first time, or moves from another Wake County address will be assigned to a school based on this new assignment plan. Updated maps and an address look-up tool will be available soon for parents to preview their base school assignments.

            Over 100 Southeast Raleigh residents expressed their disgust Monday night at Martin Street Baptist Church at the news that two Kroger Supermarkets in the community will be shutting down in mid-January. The Ohio-based food chain announced last month that the stores on Martin Luther King Blvd. and on New Bern Avenue were losing money, and had to be closed. Residents took offense, saying that it was because the area is predominately black. Others said it’s strictly a business decision. Several grocery chains are being approached to fill the void. Elderly shoppers say they will now have to travel farther to do their shopping.

            Durham NC House Rep. Larry Hall has been elected House Minority leader for the next two years by the House Democratic Caucus, published reports say. Hall’s job will be to effectively challenge the Republican House majority on policies Democrats deem important to North Carolinians. Hall, 57, has been in the state House since 2006. He has been caucus whip since 2009.

                                              FATHER PAUL MAYER


By Cash Michaels

            Editor’s Note – This is Part 1 of two exclusive interviews featuring the man who sparked the worldwide campaign to free the Wilmington Ten from prison; and another whose life was threatened by white supremacists forty years ago if he told the truth in court about the Wilmington Ten.
            This week, Father Paul Mayer.
They are two men of GOD, both white, both of whom became deeply involved with the African-American community in the civil rights movement of the sixties and seventies.
            Their paths would intersect at the case of the Wilmington Ten, and history records their vital footprints in the forty-year struggle for justice for the ten innocent civil rights activists.
Until now, and until this very story, Father Paul Mayer, a veteran climate-peace-and Occupy Movement activist, has never before identified himself as the author of the historic 1976 report by Amnesty International (AI) that first declared the Wilmington Ten to be “political prisoners.”
            Indeed, the authors of AI reports – the highly regarded, nongovernmental international human rights organization based in London that chronicles human rights abuses worldwide – are rarely identified for their own safety, making Fr. Mayer’s first and exclusive recollections about his investigation – which he writes about in his yet-to-be-published memoir, Wrestling with Angels – and how he met Rev. Eugene Templeton, the white former pastor of predominately-black Gregory Congregational Church in Wilmington – which was at the center of the Wilmington Ten controversy – all the more compelling.
Mayer, an East Orange, NJ resident, is a Catholic priest of 55 years who served as a Benedictine monk for 18 years. He has traveled the world, advocating for the poor in Latin America; standing against nuclear proliferation, and demanding equal rights for all global citizens.
As a young child, Mayer fled Nazi Germany with his parents as the Jews were being persecuted. As a result, the religious leader has a particular disdain for injustice.
While in the seminary, Mayer traveled to Selma, Alabama in 1965 to meet and march with civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his drive for voting rights.
            “That was a life-changing experience,” Mayer, 81, who has been a part of many of the peace and social justice movements of the last half-century, including Occupy, says today.
Fr. Mayer says he did not attend any of the 1972 Wilmington Ten trial proceedings, instead following developments from New York. However, when the Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a young, veteran civil rights activist Mayer knew and had worked with in his association with the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the rest of the Wilmington Ten, had been falsely convicted of conspiracy in the 1971 firebombing of a white-owned grocery store, the activist priest knew he had to get involved.
            “The outrageousness of this case really had an impact on me,” Fr. Mayer recalls. “I saw such a perversion of justice. This was a case of Southern racism.”
            Chavis had been sent to Wilmington by the UCC in Feb. 1971 to assist black students there who had boycotted New Hanover County public schools because of racial discrimination. Racial violence ensued, though there is no evidence that Chavis had anything to do with it.
            In fact, Rev. Chavis, an Oxford, NC native, was sent to ensure that the striking black students, who were headquartered at Gregory Congregational Church, only employed the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolent confrontation with Wilmington’s white power structure over their grievances.
            But it wasn’t long before Chavis and the students became targets at the church, with trucks of marauding members of a white supremacist group riding by nightly, shooting at the church and surrounding black community.
            Fr. Mayer decided that he would investigate the Wilmington Ten case, and reached out to Amnesty International to allow him to write a report.
            Normally AI would only assign investigators who lived outside of the country they were reporting on, but in Paul Mayer’s case, AI made an exception, he says.
            “I think they respected my credentials and my history,” Fr. Mayer says.
            Recalling the AI process for vetting human rights abuse investigations as “excruciatingly thorough and demanding.”
            “They take nothing for granted,” Mayer, who dealt directly with AI’s London headquarters, said. “Being declared a “prisoner of conscience”(which, according to AI, refers to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religious or political views) is a big deal, a major step. And at that time, they were more [stringent] than they are today.”
            AI issued a list of criteria Mayer had to follow during his probe, he recalls. Using his people skills, the Catholic priest began months of intense examination of the Wilmington Ten case.
            Based on his investigation, Mayer determined that the crux of North Carolina’s case against Chavis and his nine co-defendants was that they were holed up in Pastor Templeton’s Gregory Congregational Church in Wilmington, carrying out “an armed struggle,” meaning, according to their charges, that they had weapons in that church, and were firing them at firefighters and police personnel who were responding to the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery on the night of February 6, 1971.
            To this day, Dr. Chavis and the surviving members of the Wilmington Ten deny the charges. Several of the Ten, like Willie Earl Vereen, James McKoy and the late Connie Tindall, say that in fact, they were nowhere near Gregory Church or Mike’s Grocery at the time of the arson and sniper fire.
            Mayer knew that finding Rev. Templeton, who had gone into hiding for fear of his life years after the convictions, was the key to determining the answer to the burning question, “Did Ben Chavis and the black students who were under attack at Gregory Church have guns there to fight back with?”
            New Hanover County prosecutor Jay Stroud maintained they did, and had Chavis and company falsely convicted, and sentenced to a combined 282 years in prison, some of which they all served.           
            One of the reasons why Stroud was able to convict – beyond stacking the jury of ten whites and two blacks in the second trial with “KKK and Uncle Tom-types,” in addition to a pro-prosecution judge, Stroud’s own infamous notes showed forty years later – is because the defense’s prime witness, Pastor Eugene Templeton, was threatened by white supremacists and did not testify.
            Templeton was the best witness because he was in the church the entire week of the conflict, especially the evening of Feb. 6th, 1971 when Mike’s Grocery was firebombed. He knew who was there and who wasn’t. He knew where Ben Chavis was the entire time and what he was doing.
            The fact that the lives of Templeton and his wife, Donna, had been threatened to keep his testimony from being heard in court, was significant to Fr. Mayer.
            He had to find Rev. Templeton, and have him reveal what he wasn’t allowed to tell a court of law when it counted the most.
            After months of searching, Mayer tracked Rev. Templeton down to Morristown, NJ, serving as a hospital chaplain. And even after locating him, it would be weeks before Templeton would return Mayer’s phone calls, and finally agreed, under certain conditions (no tape recording being one) to share what would have been his testimony years earlier.
            “I appealed to his conscience that this, perhaps, could save [the Wilmington Ten’s] lives,” Mayer said, indicating that all of the defendants were still in prison at the time.
            “[Templeton] was terrified, and when I met him, close to a year [after contacting him], he was still a very frightened man. It took a lot of therapy on my part, and a lot of counseling, and as we Christians say, fellowship, [to] convince him that I was not a charlatan, and I was going to respect his confidentiality in whatever form he wanted me to.”
            Fr. Mayer also told Templeton that his AI report designating the Wilmington ten as political prisoners could lead to an international campaign for their freedom, which is ultimately what happened.
            Rev. Templeton began to talk, and, according to Father Mayer, his most salient point was that despite all of the violence happening outside of Gregory Congregational Church that first week in February 1971, there were no guns inside of his church, and no one was firing weapons from the church, as had been alleged by state prosecutors.
            Not only was having guns there against all that Rev. Templeton believed in, but it would have also been against the rules set down by Gregory Church’s Deacon Board, which voted to allow the black students to use the church for their rallies and classes.
            If anyone affiliated with the church knew of any weapons there, Chavis and the students would have been kicked out immediately!
            However, the jury in the Wilmington Ten trial never heard any of that.
            “[Rev. Templeton was very clear on this point,” Fr. Mayer recalls. “He had no doubt…these people had no guns.”
            “That completely destroys the state’s case against [the Wilmington Ten].”
            Mayer is convinced that Templeton’s testimony to him about there not being any weapons, the “centerpiece” of his 30-page handwritten report, convinced the officials at AI to publish Fr. Mayer’s findings in 1976, designating the Wilmington Ten as “political prisoners.”
            The report, which sparked a worldwide campaign, embarrassed not only North Carolina, but also then-President Jimmy Carter.
            It wasn’t long before fifty-five members of Congress urged the US Justice Dept. to investigate. The CBS television newsmagazine “60 Minutes” did an hour-long broadcast revealing that the evidence against the Wilmington Ten had been fabricated, and the three state’s witnesses had committed perjury.
            The worldwide pressure for the convictions to be thrown out forced then NC Gov. James B. Hunt to get on statewide television and announce that he would not pardon the Wilmington Ten, but at least commute their sentences.
            And in December 1980, after several appeals in North Carolina courts failed, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. – perhaps one of the most conservative federal appellate courts in the nation thanks to NC Sen. Jesse Helms – overturned all of the convictions of the Wilmington Ten, citing gross prosecutorial misconduct.
            The Fourth Circuit effectively told North Carolina that if it had any real evidence against the Ten, then to please commence with a third trial. If not, then dismiss all charges.
            But nothing happened. The Fourth Circuit’s decision was never appealed to the US Supreme Court; no third trial ever took place; and none of the charges were ever dismissed, even thirty-two years later.
            Today, the man who started it all, Father Paul Mayer, says it’s time for North Carolina to finally deal with the reality of the Wilmington Ten case, and the injustice that has been forty years in the making.
            He, like many others across North Carolina and the nation, want Gov. Beverly Perdue to take a hard, honest look at all that’s happened, and then do justice by granting pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten.
            “I feel deeply about this,” Father Mayer said. “I give thanks to GOD that I was a humble instrument. Even though it was years ago, I still feel that it was a major racist miscarriage of justice, and these people were maligned, defamed, and I’m sure it hurt their lives in many ways.”
            “We know that racism is alive and well in America, and [granting pardons of innocence] would be a significant step in rectifying one more racist miscarriage of justice,” Father Mayer said.
            Dr. Benjamin Chavis, who hasn’t seen Paul Mayer in many years, had kind words for his friend.
            The Reverend Paul Mayer is a lifelong colleague in the civil rights movement,” Dr. Chavis said in a statement. “Rev. Mayer's ministry continues to provide the fulfillment of what it means to be an effective and globally respected disciple of the God of equal justice and freedom for all people. Rev. Mayer is a research scholar and a transformative social visionary.”
            Next week in part 2, Rev. Eugene Templeton, in his own words, about what really happened at his church almost forty-two years ago.

SIMMONS TWEETS FOR THE WILMINGTON TEN - Music mogul Russell Simmons (left), seen here sharing smiles with Wilmington Ten members Wayne Moore (center) and Dr. Benjamin Chavis at the hip Hop Summit at NC A&T University in 2008. Simmons sent out a tweet to his 2.2 million followers on Twitter last week, asking them to sign the NAACP petition asking Gov. Beverly Perdue to grant pardons to the Wilmington Ten [photo courtesy of Wayne Moore].

By Cash Michaels

            WILMINGTON TEN PARDON UPDATE – As coordinator of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, please allow me to straighten out a few misnomers.
A legal petition for the governor to issue individual pardons of actual innocence to ALL of the Wilmington Ten was submitted May 17th of this year to the Governor's Office of Executive Clemency by two attorneys for the pardon project. Those attorneys met with the governor's clemency staff two months ago to answer any legal questions they had about the case. Those questions were answered and documentation provided as requested.
Some say the Wilmington Ten were "never proven" innocent. Well, they were never "proven" guilty either, even though they were all convicted, and sentenced to 282 years in prison. To this day, there isn't a shred of concrete evidence proving that any of the Ten committed any of the crimes they were charged with (they weren't tried on all of the charges they faced, charges, technically, that are still pending 40 years later if the state wanted to go forward). NO guns, NO bullets, NO physical evidence of ANY sort proving that ANY member of the Wilmington Ten had ANYTHING to do with the firebombing of Mike's Grocery Store, or the sniper fire on public safety personnel attending to the blaze, on the evening of Feb. 6th, 1971.
You say there's been no proof that they didn't do it. Well, let's see now...Willie Earl Vereen and James McKoy were musicians playing a gig in Leland outside of Wilmington the night of the firebombing. The late Connie Tindall was celebrating his birthday at a party at a club clear across town.
Anne Shepard, the white female, was a woman of size, as her daughter Judy Mack says, who couldn't possibly escape notice if she were involved in the firebombing. And there's no proof she even knew how to fire a rifle, let alone a gun.
And Ben Chavis was at Gregory Congregational Church that evening, working with the white pastor of that church at that time, Rev. Eugene Templeton, wetting washcloths and towels in case the National Guard had stormed the church with tear gas so they could be put over everyone's faces.
So here's the problem. Prosecutor Jay Stroud knew he had no case, so he "employed " three black convicted felons to perjure themselves on the stand as "witnesses," because without them, he had NOTHING! He took care of them - a beach cottage, a woman, a mini-bike - it's all in their letters and the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals decision.
Stroud also plots a mistrial when he ended up with a jury of ten blacks and two whites for the first trial, and indeed, gets "sick" to cause one. In jury selection, the prosecutor writes down that he should "Stay away from black men," and that he's looking for "KKK and Uncle Tom-type" jurors. And he gets a judge, Martin, who broke so many rules to ensure the Wilmington Ten were convicted, that even the 4th Circuit Court made note of his behavior.
So when folks say that the Wilmington Ten's convictions were overturned on a "technicality," they actually don't understand what they're talking about.
The Federal Appellate Court overturned the convictions in 1980 because, after studying the court record for the second trial, it determined not only wasn't there ANY credible evidence on which to convict, but that the prosecutor (Stroud) hid exculpatory evidence that proved his own witnesses were lying through their collective teeth, especially since he was paying them.
They later went before a judge and admitted they had committed perjury.
The 4th Circuit, in its decision to overturn, told the state of NC to either dismiss all charges against the Wilmington Ten, or retry them if they have any evidence at all.
And that's why, after Gov. Jim Hunt refused to pardon in 1977 (because at the time, the 4th Circuit hadn't ruled yet), he did commute the W-Ten's sentences.
No other governor since then was ever asked to pardon the Ten.
In 2011, the National Newspaper Publishers Association voted to seek pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten. They appointed me, at the recommendation of the Wilmington Journal, to coordinate the effort. I've researched this case like the back of my hand. I've interviewed many people, and I've read almost everything that is credible about this case.
In my considered opinion, pardons of innocence, especially after forty years, is more than justified. Yes, there were shootings, incidents of arson and violence during that faithful time in 1971. No argument. But WHERE is the solid evidence proving that any of the Ten had a hand in ANY of it? And if prosecutor Stroud had evidence, then why did he have to hire three lying witnesses to prove his case?
In this country, we pride ourselves with having the “best” criminal justice system in the world. But when we prosecute people with "evidence" we have to make up, we do that system, our state and our nation, a gross disservice.
This pardons of innocence effort is NOT about money. We have been working too, too hard to uncover the truth about how the Wilmington Ten were framed, and garnering the support that we have from across the nation. Clearing the names and reputations of the Ten has been our ONLY concern and goal. If we achieve it, the attorneys will deal with what's next, not us.
JUSTICE...that's what burns in our hearts about this case. And the measure for REAL justice is being able to accept the unvarnished truth about the framing and criminal justice persecution of the Wilmington Ten.
We thank you for your support thus far. The work is not over, however. As long as there is still time for Gov. Perdue to make a decision, the Pardon Project and our supporters will continue to build support.
We are also asking, for those individuals, churches or institutions who wish to beyond just signing the petition, to send letters to Gov. Perdue asking her to grant pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten by Dec. 15th.
Here is that address:
                                                            Hon. Beverly Eaves Perdue
                                                                  Governor of North Carolina
                                                            20301 Mail Service Center
                                                                 Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
            If you want more information about the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, you can go to www.wilmingtonjournal.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWilmingtonTenPardonOfInnocenceProject.
Please, as we enter this holy season of Christmas, let us deliver peace and justice to those who have been forty years denied.
As a black journalist, and a proud member of the community, after forty long years, I’d like to see justice done for the Wilmington Ten.
I sincerely hope that you do too.
Thank you.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

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