Local News

Citizens March in Support of Accused Duke Lacrosse Players

Posted February 4, 2007 4:50 p.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2007 4:42 a.m. EST

— Duke University lacrosse players and their families have always stood by the three young men accused of sexual assault last year. Now for the first time, there has been an outpouring of support from the Durham community.

Duke fans, lacrosse fans and even North Carolina fans stood together at the Durham County Courthouse on Sunday, where Collin Finnerty, David Evans, and Reade Seligmann have previously appeared to face felony charges for sexually assaulting a dancer.

“We wanted to come out and support the boys and see what's going to happen, and we feel the charges will eventually be dropped,” said supporter Roger Greer.

Two activist groups spearheaded Sunday’s gathering -- Concerned Duke Mothers, formed in response to the initial rape accusations, and Ethical Durham,  a group that encourages Duke students to vote and support ethical causes.

After previous protests where people taunted the lacrosse players, supporters said it was time to step forward to show the accused players who’s behind them.

“It's a travesty of the system, what's been going on,” one supporter said.

More than 100 people walked three miles from the courthouse toward Duke’s lacrosse field in support of three young men. At the end of the walk, there was applause for the lacrosse team as they practiced on the field.

Many marchers told WRAL they've believed in the players' innocence from the very beginning. Others admitted they wouldn't have been part of this group early on, but are a part now. Their ranks included Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's former campaign manager, Jackie Brown.

“(We’re wearing) the fantastic lies buttons, for those fantastic lies (Nifong) told,” Brown said.

“That makes me feel like my son is in a good place at Duke, in Durham, and that there are other people who believe in justice,” said Tracy Tkac, whose son plays on the lacrosse team.

A hearing previously scheduled on Monday for the accused players is on hold until at least May after the judge in the case issued an order to stop all hearings. Special prosecutors and defense attorneys met with the judge last week.

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office,  which took over the case after Nifong recused himself, issued a statement saying prosecutors will use the next few months to review the case.