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Sharpton, Barber to lead Monday rally in Greenville

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The Rev. Al Sharpton on the steps of the Jazz Hall of Fame before a "Citywide Prayer and Call for Justice" for Terence Crutcher on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Tulsa, Okla.


By Sharieka Botex
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Civil rights activist and television personality Al Sharpton will join N.C. NAACP President William Barber II in Greenville tonight to advocate for the release of a man convicted of murder more than 20 years ago.

Donte Sharpe was wrongfully prosecuted and imprisoned for a 1995 death in west Greenville, according to supporters who claim police railroaded Sharpe and say that a key witness has since recanted her testimony. Sharp has maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment.

The Pitt County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the North Carolina NAACP, Forward Together Moral Monday Movement and Sharpe’s family are holding the “Free Dontae Sharpe Now: Service and Call to Action” rally at 7 p.m. at Philippi Church of Christ, 3760 Philippi Circle.

Barber, president of the the North Carolina NAACP and organizer of the Moral Monday Movement, and Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network and host of MSNBC Politics Nation, are among several speakers expected at the event. 

Calvin Henderson, Pitt County NAACP president, said Sunday that Barber will continue to advocate for Sharpe’s release even though he is stepping down from NAACP leadership. The rally targets the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office, Henderson said.

“It sends a message that this system is broken,” Henderson said. “When it comes to African Americans, blacks, it seems to be very cruel and unjust, and a system that continues to be a system where our people are not given an opportunity to be innocent until proven guilty, but seem to be guilty before. ... There’s much to be done in this system in Pitt County.” 

District Attorney Kimberly Robb said last month that her office was conducting a review of the Sharpe investigation and had been in contact with Gov. Roy Cooper’s office to discuss the finding.

Her statement came after a protest on the steps of the Pitt County Courthouse on May 5 led by Barber. Barber presented a petition with 80,000 signatures asking Robb to free Sharpe. 

“The DA did inform us that she had initiated a new investigation and that was several weeks ago and we have yet to have a response from her of anything new that’s transpired,” Henderson said. 

“We think it’s time for a change here when it comes to our DA,” Henderson said. “She has turned her head too many times against unjust treatment that goes on in the judicial system.” 

Contact Sharieka Botex at 252-329-9567 and sbotex@reflector.com. Follow her on Twitter @ShariekaB.