Brianne Dopart, The Snooze Room
State Attorney General Roy Cooper "wrote off a whole section of Durham" last week when he declared three former Duke University lacrosse players "innocent" of accusations they sexually assaulted and kidnapped a woman, community activist Theresa El-Amin told a group of about 15 supporters of their discredited accuser Monday.Joan Foster provides additional coverage of the Twilight Zone:
At a meeting at The Know Bookstore And Cultural Center at 2520 Fayetteville St., El-Amin and fellow activists Victoria Peterson and Lavonia Allison aired their opposition to Cooper's vindication of the former Duke players.
Peterson, an ardent supporter of the exonerated players' accuser, said Cooper circumvented the justice system when he declared the former defendants innocent on all counts.
"I don't really care what you think, if you think that the girl was lying or telling the truth, but what happened to the judicial system we have in this country where the jury is the only one who can say if someone is innocent?" Peterson said. "If he thought there wasn't enough evidence, he could dismiss the charges, but this man [Cooper] took it a step further, he said 'We believe these three are innocent.' "
"People on death row get exonerated [all the time] and did you ever hear an attorney general come out and say [the exonerated individual] is innocent? It's a scandal," El-Amin said.
Community member Beverly Jenkins said the fact that the accuser had not been charged with making false accusations proves Cooper has something to hide.
Activist Dannette Sharpley, who is working with El-Amin to plan an April 28 march against sexual violence, said the charges were dismissed because society undervalues women of color and women who work as exotic dancers and strippers.
"To them, this woman was unrape-able. [To them] she asked for it. [To them] she doesn't dignify the process. That's why they're 'innocent,' " Sharpley said.
Peterson said she felt the African American community in Durham failed to rally around the accuser because the woman was employed as a stripper.
El-Amin, who said she wanted to get Durham's black churches to offer the accuser financial support, got about five people to agree to help her provide the accuser with food and rent money. She added that she was not in contact with the victim but hoped she would be soon.