Coming up: Racial Justice Act cases will put evidence of death penalty racism before the North Carolina Supreme Court

 

A big day is coming up, and we need your help! Beginning one week from today, North Carolina’s highest court will hear six cases under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act. These cases go to the heart of our fight to end the racist death penalty.

They include stunning evidence of racism in death penalty trials. The court must decide whether that evidence will get its day in court, or whether it will be thrown away. The decision comes down to whether the state will be allowed to execute people whose death sentences are tainted by racism.

Just look at some of the evidence these six death row prisoners have uncovered:

  • A prosecutor referred to a defendant as “a big black bull” during closing arguments.
  • During jury selection at a black man’s trial, two white jurors suggested that he should have been lynched, yet were allowed to remain in the jury pool.
  • At another trial, the sheriff’s department cordoned off the area behind the defense table with crime scene tape, prejudicing the jury and forcing the defendant’s black family to sit in the back of the courtroom.
  • Prosecutors wrote insulting notes about black jurors. A black juror with criminal history was a “thug” while a white juror who trafficked in drugs was “a fine guy.” A black juror was a “blk wino” while a white juror with a DUI conviction was a “country boy – ok.” A Black woman was acceptable because she was “from a respectable BLK family.”
  • A statistical study showed that prosecutors in the counties where the trials took place routinely struck qualified black jurors at far higher rates than white jurors, denying African American citizens the fundamental right to wield power in the jury box and defendants the right to a jury of their peers.

We need you to:

  1. Attend the hearings and invite your friends. The NC Supreme Court will hear arguments in five of the cases on August 26, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the sixth case on August 27, at 9:30 a.m. Watch on WRAL if you’re unable to attend in person.
  2. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter and share our posts.
  3. Spread the word. Your voice matters. Write a letter to the editor. Talk to your friends. Think local, think statewide, think about your regional newspaper, faith group, or book club. Share this site and share your thoughts on why capital punishment must come to an end.

Go here for a Racial Justice Act quick fact sheet to help you write your letter, craft your speech, or hand out at your event.

Go here for the full story of the Racial Justice Act and why it matters in our fight to end the death penalty.