Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ghosts of the Scottsboro Boys hover over Durham

It might do Durham good to step back from the trees, and see how the forest looks through the out-of-state eyes of a born and breed Southerner.

I’ve never seen anything in my 34-year journalism career that compares to the apparent racism, motivated by the desire for political gain, that fuels the Duke lacrosse team’s rape accusations. The only high-profile analogy I know is Alabama’s attempt to lynch, legally of course, the Scottsboro Boys in 1931.

Douglas O. Linder, the Elmer Powell Peer Professor of Law at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, wrote about that trial (

“No crime in American history-- let alone a crime that never occurred-- produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on a Southern Railroad freight run on March 25, 1931.

“Over the course of the two decades that followed, the struggle for justice of the ‘Scottsboro Boys,’ as the black teens were called, made celebrities out of anonymities, launched and ended careers, wasted lives, produced heroes . . . and divided America's political left.”

The parallels already scream at us. First, now, as then, did a crime occur?

There is already more than enough reasonable doubt from evidence made public. Thank the unrelenting efforts of your local journalists digging out the truth, despite the best efforts of District Attorney Mike Nifong, and your police chief, Steven Chalmers, to hide it from you.

This is the First Amendment and Government in the Sunshine protecting you from the state’s police power. Keep that in mind when you complain about the Founding Fathers, and subsequent state legislators, putting them in place.

The latest public revelation proves defendant Reade Seligmann was nowhere near the accuser’s claimed rape location.

The only time for the DA’s crime theory of the rape is 12:10 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Time-stamped digital photos of the accuser eliminate all other times.

The Grand Jury’s indictment claims Mr. Seligmann, “willfully and feloniously, did ravish and carnally know” the accuser “by force and against her will.” Further, he kidnapped her, “for the purposes of terrorizing her and facilitating the commission of the felonies . . .”

To be true, the defendant had to pull off those crimes in less than four minutes. That’s all the time there is once you know Mr. Seligmann’s cell phone proves he called a taxi at 12:14 a.m., left the scene at 12:19 a.m., hit his ATM at 12:24 a.m., and digitally checked into his dorm room at 12:49 a.m.

Going back to those digital photos, the other defendant, Collin Finnerty, doesn’t show up in any of them. It’s reasonable to ask why he doesn’t.

Something else doesn’t show up either: neither his DNA, nor the DNA of anybody else who is white and on the Duke lacrosse team shows up on the accuser - the accuser who was supposedly brutally beaten, raped, and sodomized.

Mr. Nifong’s sleight-of-hand explanation was the rapists wore long sleeves and jackets. Mr. Nifong is no magician; his trick doesn’t work once you know the digital photos prove they wore short sleeves.

I don’t know anyone who believes him any longer. Regardless, Mr. Nifong said he is going for a third defendant.

File as he wills, without a miraculous recovery, he, the police chief, the judge who presides, and every other person whose fingerprints end up on this case, will become infamous. Their legacy will be on par with those involved with the Scottsboro Boys.

Just as Jim Crow didn’t leave town until whites stopped lying about their racist apartheid policies against blacks, this DA’s travesty won’t end until those blacks and their white allies organizing the daily protests stop lying about appearing to be the “new whites” persecuting the “new blacks.” Just as in the Scottsboro Boys case, it’s all about the color of a person’s skin.

Anyone will understand why Mr. Nifong isn’t taking interview appointments. If the truth, mined by journalists, continues to show his actions are as ill bent as they all appear to be so far, he’ll likely face charges of malicious prosecution. If that happens, the chief may well join him in the dock.

It’s time for the governor or attorney general to pull the plug on Mr. Nifong and Chief Chalmers. North Carolina’s commitment to eliminating racism in the criminal justice system is on trial across America and around the world.

So far, Durham looks to join 1931 Alabama as guilty of racist motivations.

Mr. Nifong’s political ambitions are destroying lives, careers, the university, and the community itself. The police chief appears as his accomplice. But justice will come.

Just as it did for those who persecuted the Scottsboro Boys.



Rick in Duxbury said...

Don't you know that African-Americans can't be racists? Al Sharpton said so. Something about "300 years of oppression" or "reparations" or some such thing. Seriously, the sad truth is that we're lucky false accusations, (and I have no idea if this is one), don't occur more often. Desperate people who feel this is their only shot at power accuse others of racism, sexism, child abuse and other horrors. A cautionary tale indeed.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that Photoshoppe was used on the photos. I don't know why any intelligent reporter doesn't see the framed black background as being an alteration. When you take digital photos...that background isn't there...Those photos weren't altered for cosmetic purposes; the people at the party have something to hide!! As for Seigelman...he was accused of facializing the alleged victim. Since the exact timeline hasnt been verified...The jury is still out on if he had time... And I can't believe noone has speculated there aren't any damaging photos taken with cellphones... All it takes is one drunk player to take a photo of the rape in progress and BAM.. that's all the evidence needed! You mean Reade had an opportunity to humiliate this woman, while she was under the influence of drugs and he didn't TAKE ANY MEMORABLE PHOTOS WITH THAT CELLPHONE OF HIS...DARN!! SOMEBODY was stupid enough to transmit the photos to their email or another phone... Unless someone's Daddy paid to erase the servers for all the Telecommunications companies... I expect a smokkin gun revelation soon. Someone was stupid enough to TAKE A PHOTO OF THE RAPE IN PROGRESS!! WHY ELSE WOULD THE MEDIA(especially FOX NEWS) JOIN IN HARASSING THE ALLEGED VICTIM IF THEY DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT SOME MEN AT THAT PARTY RAPED HER??

Kenneth E. Lamb said...

Re: Photoshop remarks

Your remarks caught my attention. If you do have information that will validate your claim about Photoshop - or some other photo manipulation software, I am very interested in hearing from you so I can discuss this further with you.

Your cell phone remarks also fascinate me – I’m just wondering how to validate your thoughts.

If you are for real, here is how to reach me: Your post goes to my email prior to appearing on the blog. I am the only person who sees the post you write. Email me with a way to reach you and talk.


Anonymous said...

"If the truth, mined by journalists, continues to show his actions are as ill bent as they all appear to be so far..."

That's just too funny!!! "Truth" from journalists??? Let's get real: Journalists are geniuses at giving you their "truth" - nothing more and nothing less.

As far as Mr. Seligmann's cabbie driver and "alibi", I took that with a grain of salt as soon as I read that the cabbie driver did not actually recognize Mr. Seligmann, and in fact asked for details of the cab ride in order to verify his identity. Oddly enough, the cab driver claimed that he picked up the fares about a block and a half away from the party - why? Why not at the party? Speaking hypothetically, of course, if Mr. Seligmann wanted to establish an alibi for himself, at the same time distancing himself from any association with the party, then it makes perfect sense that he would have the cab pick him up at another location.

I also have to wonder about the photos taken at the party... funny how there are no photos of the stripper between 12:03 and 12:30 - just about half an hour. I can't believe either that only one of the players at the party took pictures on their cell phone. The bottom line is that we only know about the photos that the defense attorneys chose to release - and of course they're only going to release those photos which help their boys.

Final analysis: DA's never come out smelling like a rose in a prominent rape case. Nifong didn't take this case for his political interests, he took it on in spite of his political interests. And the Grand Jury didn't base their judgment on their political interests. There would be no case if there were no strong physical evidence. We just don't know it all yet.

Anonymous said...

Martinsville Seven.

In 1949, in Martinsville, Va., seven black men were accused of raping a 32-year-old married, white woman. Within 30 hours of the alleged rape, all had signed written confessions. Within 11 days, all seven were tried, convicted and sentenced to death by all-white juries. Two were tried during the same trial. The youngest was only 17 and the rest, except for one, were all in their early 20s. The oldest was a 37-year-old man with a wife and five beautiful children. (I have 55 year old newspaper photographs)

Although no white man in Virginia had ever been executed for rape, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and President Harry Truman refused to grant clemency. All seven were executed by 1951.

This case was instrumental in helping change the rape laws of this great country. Around the world, they became known as the Martinsville Seven.

No matter what, if some of these Duke athletes are indeed guilty of rape, they will never face the death penalty, thanks to the Martinsville Seven. By the way, three of the Seven were Hairstons, relatives of mine and I was born and raised in Martinsville,Va. And for the record, the true story of the Seven has never been told.

There are so many untold stories of injustice in America! Thanks for listening.