Black Man To Be Released After 44 Years

After over 16,000 days in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit, Ronnie Long will finally be a free man. At 19, Long was convicted of raping a white woman by an all-white jury in North Carolina and he has been fighting for his freedom for 44 years.

On August 26, Jamie Lau, Long’s lawyer wrote on  Twitter, “The State of NC filed a motion with the Fourth Circuit this morning asking that it immediately issue the mandate in Ronnie Long’s case. The state said it will ask the district court to enter a writ vacating Ronnie’s conviction. In short, Ronnie Long is coming home!”

Lau also wrote that he spoke with Long and that Long is “grateful, overwhelmed, and looks forward to reuniting with his loved ones.”

Sadly, Long will not be able to reunite with his mother, Elizabeth Long, who died on July 11 at 89 years old. It was her prayer to see her son as a free man before she passed away, which never happened.

In May of 1976, 19-year-old Ronnie Long went to court for a trespassing charge in Concord, North Carolina. In the courtroom, he was was accused of raping a white woman.

As Lau explained on SiriusXM’s The Clay Cane Show on June 24, Long was pointed out by the victim as being the rapist because, according to Lau,  she testified “he was the only one in the courtroom that looked remotely similar to the person who had attacked her.”

Lau also claimed the victim, who passed away in 2016, originally told law enforcement the attacker was “yellow,” which is slang for a light-skinned Black man and she “never mentioned any facial hair on her attacker.” Long had a beard, a mustache and is a dark-skinned man. 

Additionally, out of the 43 fingerprints police collected from the rape scene, none of the prints matched Long’s, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Nonetheless, Long was quickly convicted by an all-white jury.

For years, Long has been back and forth with the courts. In May, his lawyer defended his case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which included 15 members of the nation’s second highest court. 

According to the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina Judge James Wynn slammed the case by saying, “Prosecutors clearly had evidence that any defense counsel in the world, not only in 1976 but (in) the history of this country, would have wanted or needed and which should have been supplied. And yet, we did not provide it.”

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Pressure was put on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat and made headlines for tweeting “Black Lives do Matter” on May 31, to commute Long’s sentence.

Lau told SiriusXM in June, “Governor Roy Cooper has the authority to commute Ronnie’s sentence immediately… we’ve asked the governor to do that in light of the significant evidence of wrongdoing and misconduct in the case, the actual innocence of Mr. Long and, quite frankly, because he served 44 years for a rape conviction on the basis of little to no evidence.”

In June 24, SiriusXM radio host Clay Cane directly tweeted Governor Cooper with, “If Black Lives Matter to you, release Ronnie Long. As you know, he was convicted by an all-white jury of raping a white woman in 1976. #FreeRonnieLong SHOW US you care about Black lives by freeing him. His lawyer is pleading for you to do the right thing.”

Cooper never responded, even while Cane led a campaign on SiriusXM for listeners to contact Gov. Roy Cooper’s office to demand Long’s release. 

Today (August 26), Cane tweeted,”This is epic… and the work was done with zero help from Gov. Roy Cooper.” 

Long does not have an exact date for his release.

See a clip below of attorney Jamie Lau describing how the state of North Carolina allegedly treated Ronnie Long’s elderly mother. 

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