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During racial disorders in Wilmington, South Carolina, in 1971, a group of black militants, led by Ben Chavis, according to witnesses, had organised armed forays, sniping and firebombings from a church. Two people died in the riot.
A bi-racial jury found the defendants guilty, and the court sentenced 9 blacks to terms from 23-34 years, a white woman to 19 years. Ben Chavis received a sentence of 25-29 years for firebombing of property, and 4-5 years for conspiracy to assault emergency personnel.
Subsequently, an appeal for a new trial was dismissed; during the hearing, several witnesses withdrew their testimonies against the accused, claiming that these were given under pressure from the prosecutor.
The case created wide national and international interest: members of Congress tried to intercede, and Amnesty International also probed the case.
Wilmington 10 - U.S.A. 10,000 is a documentary, made by Ethiopian-born director, Haile Gerima, with a black crew. The film deals with the Black experience in America, with special emphasis on the impact of racism as manifested through the criminal justice and the penal system. The film 'attempts to give voice to the people surrounding the case of the Wilmington 10 — the families, students, community members', and 'addresses the historical struggle of the Black people for freedom against historical, political, social and racial oppression in the US and the world'.