State News

Wilmington 10 seek pardons from Perdue

Posted May 17, 2012

— Ten North Carolina youths sent to prison in the 1970s, who became known as the Wilmington 10, are seeking pardons of innocence from Gov. Bev Perdue before she leaves office this year.

The seven survivors and relatives of three dead members of the group filed petitions Thursday with Perdue's office. They were convicted after a grocery store burned during a 1971 race riot in which the store was firebombed and snipers shot at firefighters from the roof of a church.

A group of civil rights activists and students barricaded inside the church, and a riot broke out, killing two people. In the end, 10 people were convicted of arson and conspiracy and sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison.

Wilmington 10 leader Benjamin Chavis and nine others were freed when a federal appeals court overturned their convictions in 1980, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

Chavis later became executive director of the NAACP. He says North Carolina's politics and history 40 years after their convictions make this the right time to seek pardons. It would also allow them to seek compensation from the state.

"(The past 40 years have been) hell, h-e-l-l. But, through the grace of God, we made it," said Wilmington 10 member Connie Tindall.

Perdue is not seeking re-election this year. Her spokeswoman says the petitions will get full and fair consideration.

4 Comments

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  • Sherlock May 18, 2:56 p.m.

    The Bev will give them all full pardons and each will receive 1.3 mill for the way the state has treated them. But when thaey receive the money tax free what will they do with it... help others or just themselves????

  • Bob3425 May 18, 2:40 p.m.

    "were freed when a federal appeals court overturned their convictions in 1980, citing prosecutorial misconduct", Why should they be pardon or be compensation from the state? They were not release because they were innocent.

  • loprestw May 18, 10:31 a.m.

    Evryone knows when the NAACP gets envolved they are quilty and should stay in jail. But then again, those are more democratic votes.

  • retiredcfcc May 18, 8:37 a.m.

    Knowing how Bev. and the democRATS work, she'll most likely grant pardons so they can collect from the taxpayers. Just another case of wanting compensation. Give it to them Bev, these people are just "good ol boys" that belong to the DEMOCrats.