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Dontae Sharp is Free! by Edith Berry

February 12, 2020

I was on the road for TCP Magazine at the 14th Annual HKonJ, (The Historic Thousands on Jones Street) People’s Assembly Moral March, in Raleigh on February 8, 2020. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, and other speakers, shared the same issues and concerns that have not been resolved! It has been an all-time high for better health care, racial and gender equality, increasing minimum wage, better housing, and nondiscrimination on the workforce and public places. Other social and economic issues still prevail. Participants were from various political affiliations, youth as well as adults, different ethnicities, races, and sexual orientation. There was a striking story that resonated in my mind from the past, of numerous chants, “Free Dontae Sharp,” in rallying for his release from prison. Now, Dontae is assembled at the march after being released from prison in Pitt County on August 23, 2019. The injustice of this story is that he served 26 years in prison, from the age of 19 years old and presently 45 years old, but found innocent. He made heart rendering remarks that he was thankful! But research showed there was no evidence that linked him to this crime. Within 2 months after the trial, the 15 year old state alleged witness, recanted her testimony, and his alibi was never interviewed by the police. Dontae refused to take a deal to be release. He stood his ground to prove his innocence because he wanted his family to always stand up for the truth. In speaking with him directly one on one, I had to ask how old he was. Yes, I did mental math, but refused to admit he was that age. He said he learned many things from being in prison. Dontae had a forgiven spirit of his circumstance, a smile, and told me it’s okay. He has children and grandchildren now, but missed their formative years in developing and growing without his presence. Dontae is physically free from prison, spiritually free, but in going through the photographs I took of him, I saw he had a cane! Did something happen, for a 45 year old man to have a cane? Did the system compensate him for all those years which imprisoned him of this crime? Is this the new “justice for all?” If this was your father, grandfather, brother, uncle, son, or cousin, what would you say or do? Dontae is free, but has justice been served?

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