It’s Time For Justice: Drop The Charges Vs. Duke Lacrosse Players

Mercury News, Jason Whitlock, Oct. 16, 2006

The charges against the Duke lacrosse players should be dropped immediately, and the people demanding the dismissal the loudest and most forcefully should be the very people who have made a living allegedly fighting against racial injustice.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should be in Durham, N.C., today, promising civil disobedience until the charges are dropped and prosecutor Mike Nifong resigns.

Ed Bradley and “60 Minutes” should never be mistaken for Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court. Bradley is just a TV reporter and “60 Minutes” is just a TV show, but you couldn’t help but be moved by the story they aired Sunday night about the Duke lacrosse rape allegations.

The three accused players gave their first interviews, and two of them claimed they had airtight, documented alibis. The accuser’s one-night sidekick, Kim Roberts, seems to have settled on telling the truth rather than trying to spin the story for fame or money. She contradicted several of the statements the accuser gave to police.

“60 Minutes” obtained footage of the accuser working a stripper pole two short weeks after allegedly being brutally raped and beaten by three men and exposed the unfairness of the photo lineup used to ID the suspects.

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The piece left you with two overwhelming beliefs: 1. Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans did not rape the accuser; 2. There’s no possible way the district attorney can win a conviction.

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When you toss in the players’ claims that the prosecutor won’t even grant them an audience to hear their exculpatory evidence and the racially charged nature of the investigation, the case rises to a level where people concerned about blind, equal and fair justice should get involved.

Anyone who has been mistreated by law enforcement or had a friend or family member treated unjustly by our criminal-courts system should be concerned about what is transpiring in Durham.

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Had “60 Minutes” aired the same story about three black Duke basketball players being railroaded by a prosecutor pandering to white voters and a white accuser with zero credibility, we all know where Jackson and Sharpton would be—right where they should be today. In Durham, asking the prosecutor to do the right thing.

It is in the best interest of all black people, especially poor black people, that black people with a voice and a platform call for an end to the persecution of the Duke lacrosse players and program.

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