Two Africans in North Carolina set free after serving 30 years

LUMBERTON, N.C.– Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown were finally exonerated on September 2, 2014 in the 1983 rape and murder of  Sabrina Buie, an 11-year-old African girl, after more than three decades of being falsely imprisoned in North Carolina.
The two men walked out of different prison faciities three hours apart. Henry Lee leaving from North Carolina's Death Row about 10:00 am Wednesday September 3, and his brother Leon leaving from the facility at Maury three hours later.
Sabrina's naked body was found in a near-by soybean field and a later autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted.
Despite the fact no physical evidence was ever found linking these two biological brothers to the rape and murder, they were charged and convicted of capital murder and rape and given death sentences.
The case went to trial only on the coerced confessions obtained by the colonial police of the Red Springs, North Carolina police department. McCollum and Brown were 19 and 15 years of age, respectively, at the time of the manufactured and manipulated confessions.They are now 50 and 46 respectively.
McCollum was initially detained for approximately four to five hours and his brother, Brown, came to the police station only to see what was going on with his brother’s detainment.
As a result of this visit, he too was locked up and charged with murder and rape.
The brothers were both “interrogated” by cops who forced McCollum and Brown to sign statements of confessions that included incriminating details that only the cops would be familiar with.
The brothers insisted they signed the contrived confessions because they feared for their own lives.
The brutal tactics used by the police, with all the resources of the State at its disposal, successfully bullied confessions leading to more than 30 years of life stolen from each of these brothers, their loved ones and their community.
After having their convictions overturned by an appellate court, the two brothers were retried and at the second trial Brown was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison, while McCollum was sentenced to die and placed on death row once again where he remained until his release.
Conviction overturned
McCollum, who became the longest living person on death row in North Carolina, spoke of how his dreams of finding a good wife, having a family and becoming an entrepreneur were stolen by his conviction.
During his trial, McCollum recanted his confession a total of 226 times.
The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission became involved in the case in 2010, following a letter from Leon Brown in 2009 requesting a probe into his case in order to prove his innocence.
The case got a key break last month when DNA obtained from the initial crime scene proved conclusively that McCollum and Brown were innocent.
After a hearing on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 in which the new evidence was produced, the brothers were declared innocent and ordered to be freed the next day.  
Vernetta Alston, a staff attorney with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation who was one of the lawyers for Henry McCollum and Steve Drizin who is the legal director of their Center on Wrongful Convictions both attest to how the brothers were threatened with arrest and the death penalty if they did not sign a prepared confession.
McCollum said he told the cops untrue statements so that he could go home since the cops said he would be able to go home if he would just sign the statement.
The cops overseeing these interrogations should have their pensions and benefits rescinded and these payments should be surrendered to the two brothers as some form of reparations to Brown and McCollum.
The State and the death penalty
In a 1994 debate on the death penalty, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia pointed to Henry McCollum as an example of why the death penalty is just.
As recently as 2010, in a political race in North Carolina, a poster of Henry Lee McCollum was used in a campaign (similar to the Willie Horton poster in the Dukakis campaign) to raise the unfounded fears of the “terrible black man.”
Thus, the State and the pro-death penalty prosecuting attorney Joe Freeman Britt violated the rights of these two Africans and many others.
In Britts’s quest to become North Carolina’s greatest district attorney ever, he secured more than 40 death sentences while in office.
Guilt or innocence had nothing to do with how Britt practiced law. His goal was to murder Africans regardless of evidence that could prove innocence.
Britt understood his role as an officer of the colonial court, and the theory and practice of the court is “any old nigger will do.”
In fact a 60 Minutes profile of the bible quoting Britt concluded he was the “most deadliest DA” in the U.S., according to a recent New York Times article.
Many of our imprisoned brothers and sisters have not survived in the belly of the beast long enough to fight to prove their innocence and gain their human right to freedom.
 All too often, young Africans have been railroaded by a system that seeks to expeditiously falsely arrest, charge, imprison and send them to death row.
The fact of the matter is that there is no justice for an African in an American courtroom.
Britt was contacted following the release of McCollum and Brown and said they are still guilty. This is the view of the system that is coming from Britt’s mouth.
The court that Britt represents is as guilty as the police in the overall oppression and colonization of African people in the U.S.
This same system has more than a million Africans locked down right now..
Hopefully, McCollum and Brown will join the African Liberation Movement and fight for our whole people to be free.
We will win peace and justice through revolution.

We Will Win!


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