Upcoming Rally Focuses Attention on Prosecutorial Misconduct in North Carolina

A rally in support of James Johnson will be held Sunday [Dec. 2] at the First Baptist Church, located at 101 South Wilmington St. in Raleigh, N.C., starting at 6 p.m. Community activists, legal experts, supporters and Johnson will be on hand for the event aimed at raising funds for his legal defense and scholarship funds.    

Much diligent work by the NAACP North Carolina State Conference led to Johnson’s release on bond last month and reassignment of the case to the Administrative Office of Courts, supervised by Chief Justice Sarah Parker of the state’s Supreme Court. Johnson spent more than three years in a North Carolina jail awaiting trial in connection with the death of a white, female classmate following their graduation from a high school in Wilson. No physical evidence ties Johnson to the crime and two DNA tests clear him in the death. He provided information to the police to help identify the killer and locate the victim, yet he was penalized. The man who implicated Johnson in the death has since recanted and is serving a life sentence for the murder.             

The NAACP stands firm with the community and others in its belief that James Johnson, now 21, should have never been arrested, charged with murder and incarcerated. The recent appointment of a special prosecutor to review the troubling circumstances of the case is the beginning of a movement to ensure that prosecutors at all levels do not shirk the public’s trust and abuse the authority given them.

“Time and again in communities large and small we find the scales of justice are tipped against those of a darker skin tone,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. “The NAACP denounces overly aggressive and racially discriminatory utilization of prosecutorial discretion. We demand that the American criminal justice system live up to its Constitutional obligations to serve and protect all Americans with dignity and fairness irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, religious faith and other differences.”

“James Johnson’s release is just the first step,” said NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Rev. William Barber II. “All charges must be dropped and he must not spend another second behind bars. James is the hero in this tragedy yet he has been treated wrongly by the actions of a rogue assistant District Attorney. We believe that the pressure to decide the way of the rich and powerful against the poor and Black is the ugly secret in too many prosecutorial decisions. We are determined to stop this disparate treatment in our criminal justice system.”

An online petition will be available soon via the Association’s website at www.naacp.org or www.ncprosecutorialmisconcduct.com so that North Carolina’s Governor and Attorney General know clearly that the public expects justice and full redemption in this case.  

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors

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