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Wilmington 10 members, NAACP hold rally in support of pardons

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Members of the NAACP and Wilmington 10 rallied Tuesday night in support of pardons for the group, but one former police officer says there are questions that still need to be asked.

“It was wrong and the right time to do right is right now,” said Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the NAACP’s State Conference.

One Wilmington 10 member, Connie Tindall, served five years in prison before his conviction was overturned.

“As bad as it is, it’s a good time for at least now, we’re beginning to get the recognition that we are due,” Tindall says.

However, one man says there is another side to the story. John Winecoff joined the Wilmington Police Department in May of 1971, three months after the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery. He feels the full story needs to be retold.

When asked what he thought the truth behind all of it is, Winecoff said, “I think that they did most of the violence. I think right now, they are after money and recognition. if these people didn’t do it, then who did?”

Tindall says there were people involved with the burning and shooting, but he was not one of them.

“I’m not a rat, so I don’t tell on anybody, but what I know I’ll go to the grave with,” Tindall says. “All I can say with all truth and sincerity is that it was not me.”

Supporters of the pardons say the state now has a chance to right their wrongs.

“The lies of injustice can’t destroy the truth the Wilmington 10 stood on,” Rev. Barber says. “Their memory is still here.”

The Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project hopes to collect 100,000 signatures on its petitions.

If granted pardons, each member could be compensated $50,000 for each year they spent in prison.

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