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Black Nationalist Group Backing Duke Lacrosse Rape Accuser

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DURHAM, N.C. — A black nationalist group is now offering its support to a woman who says she was raped by three members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team.

The group, New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, is reportedly providing security for the 27-year-old North Carolina Central University student, who according to her family is not backing away from her allegations.

Members of the New Black Panther Party have been passing out fliers with pictures of two suspects printed on them that read "Demonstrate your discontent." The group is also planning a rally Monday morning at Duke University and a community meeting later that evening to "shine the spotlight" on what they believe is the root of the case: racism and classism.

The alleged victim, who is black, told Durham police investigators that she was gang-raped, beaten and sodomized by three white lacrosse players at a March 14 party for which she was hired to perform as an exotic dancer.

According to court documents, the accuser told police that she and a second dancer at the party felt threatened as the men there became aggressive and shouted racial slurs at them.

The two women were going to leave, but were convinced to go back to the party, during which the rape allegedly occurred.

Last week, Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19, were arrested and charged in connection with the allegations. A third arrest in the case is also expected.

Members of the community, however, have criticized the Durham County district attorney for taking so long to file charges, and some have vocally expressed their concerns that the case might have been handled differently had the accuser been white and the accused black.

Others have also criticized the national media's coverage of the case, which in some cases has portrayed Durham as a poor black city sitting in the shadows of an elite white university.

And the accuser has also come under scrutiny, making her life difficult at times, according to family members. The woman is staying with friends, but her brother says she is still taking classes at N.C. Central.


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