Ronnie Wallace Long, whose racially-charged conviction triggered a riot in the mill town in 1976, is still incarcerated. It has been 36 years. Long has maintained his innocence while serving one of the longest sentences for rape in the state. An all-white jury convicted Long more than 30 years ago of the rape and burglary of a prominent Concord widow, whose husband was an executive at Canon Mills. The prosecution presented a smudged shoe print but no blood, hair, paint, fiber, fingerprints or semen linking Long to the rape. The conviction was based on the eyewitness identification of the victim who pointed out Long to officers in an unusual "lineup" when police brought the victim to court to see him.
All-white police officers lined the Concord court when the verdict was announced in 1976. After the verdict, protesters chanted outside the courtroom and news video shows officers clearing the courthouse swinging batons. Protesters set two homes on fire the weekend after the verdict. "What kind of justice could I receive, you understand what I'm saying, under these type circumstances," Ronnie Long told WCNC-TV in a 2007 prison interview.
Nobody will ever change the condition of a people until they change within themselves. Family the burden is on us to change our behavior; to build love, trust and confidence in each other and in our people for us, then, 95% of our problems will be solved. We, as leaders must declare that we will never sell out the aspirations of our people for personal wealth, position and advancement in the society of our former slave masters and their children. We must make a covenant with our people to work and sacrifice and be willing to be the good shepherd (leaders) who will lay down our lives for our people. Let us accept our responsibility and change our behavior to that, which will make us more than comrades and brothers and Sisters!
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