Local News

NAACP Reinforces Call for Law to Resolve Duke Lacrosse Case

Posted December 23, 2006 7:14 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2006 10:20 p.m. EST

— The state NAACP’s insistence that the Duke lacrosse case be processed in the court of law rather than the court of public opinion is unaffected by a decision to drop rape charges against the players, the group’s president said Saturday.

We’ve always been the one, and from Day 1 it’s in writing, that we never wanted to rush to judgment, or a delay of justice ... but a thorough and meticulous investigation,” the Rev. William J. Barber II said.

“In some sense, we’re seeing the process work when things get sifted through,” Barber said.

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong on Friday filed papers dropping first-degree rape charges against the three players indicted in the case. He let sexual assault and kidnapping charges stand.

Reade Seligmann, 20, Collin Finnerty, 20, and David Evans, 23, were indicted last spring after a North Carolina Central University student told police she was beaten and raped by three lacrosse players while performing as a stripper at a March 13 team party.

The woman whose complaint began the case told investigators she could not confidently testify to circumstances that would be necessary to prove a rape charge.

Barber, who leads the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People State Conference, would not comment on Nifong's handling of the case.

In April, he had called on people to use the legal system to take care of matters.

“Don’t let it be decided by hearsay. Don’t let it be decided by community speculation. Take it to the courts,” Barber said.

Whatever happens in the courts, Barber said Saturday that the community still has to confront “classism,” racism and sexual violence.

“Those are issues, we’re going to have to address, regardless of where this particular case goes,” Barber said Saturday. “We gotta face that truth, whatever it is.”

"At the end of the day, it's the truth that will set us free in this community," he added.