Friday, August 3, 2012


                                  CONNIE TINDALL
Young Connie Tindall was an all-star high school football champion in Wilmington who dreamed of growing up to play Sunday afternoons in the NFL one day. At age 20, Tindall had the skill, the talent and the ambition. All he needed was the chance to prove himself.
But the Wilmington Ten episode changed all of that.
Tindall, whose father was a longshoreman, was looking for work while still attending school. The unjust way he saw black students being treated in the New Hanover county Public School System after it closed all-black Williston High in 1968, compelled Tindall to get involved with the movement for educational equality 1971.
It wasn’t long before Connie became a fiery spokesman for the black student cause headquartered at Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ, located in Wilmington’s black community.
Tindall shaped the black student message, and became their face in the media. Even after UCC Rev. Benjamin Chavis took over leadership in February 1971, Tindall continued to help lead and speak out amid the building racial tensions that saw violence in the streets, and police reluctance to do anything about it.
Apparently the authorities made note of Tindall, however, because a year after the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery near Gregory Church, Tindall was yanked out of bed late at night in his parents’ home, arrested and charged with conspiracy in connection with the grocery store incident.
“We have a warrant for your son’s arrest,” Tindall recalls the police telling his shocked parents, remembering how they had the house surrounded.
The young man was taken from the house to the street, and handcuffed, as his bewildered parents watch.
Tindall knew the arrest and charges were bogus, because on the night of the fire, he was across town in a club called the Ponderosa, celebrating his birthday with several friends.
Tindall admits that before the Wilmington Ten episode, he had a “few scraps” with the law - things that teenagers normally got in trouble for. But nothing of the magnitude of what he was being charged with now - conspiracy in connection with the firebombing and the sniper fire aimed at firefighters.

When the first trial in June 1972 was cut short and declared a mistrial, Tindall says there was no question in his mind that he and the other members of the Wilmington Ten would be hung out to dry. There were ten blacks and two whites on the first jury. When the case began again on Sept. 11, 1972, the new jury was now ten whites and two blacks.
Tindall said the prosecutor, Jay Stroud, was “deranged,” especially in how he “wined and dined” witnesses like Allen Hall to lie on the stand.
Tindall’s family attended the trial, distraught at what they were seeing. But they also supportive of their son, telling him, “We believe in you.”
Tindall was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison.
It hit him and his family hard, he says, but they remained supportive during his incarceration.
“Prison was just another way of life,” he recalls. “Same things went on in the streets, went on there.”
Tindall kept the faith that even if it took ten or twenty years, the truth would come out. He said that the whole ordeal was meant to destroy him, but he refused to allow that to happen, and held his head up high.
His family came to see him often in prison, and encouraged Tindall to stay strong.
When Tindall finally left prison on early release after almost five years, his return to Wilmington was met with no job (or least no job he could keep past one week).
Fortunately, because Tindall’s father is a longshoreman, he’s able to work with him.
But beyond that, some people in the community continued to shun Tindall, black people, and he admits that it hurt. It took several years before living in Wilmington became “bearable,” primarily because many believed that he was guilty.
Tindall’s future prospects for personal success were dim as long as he stayed in Wilmington. He says had the Wilmington Ten never happened, he “would have been a beast” as an NFL defensive back.
Tindall refused to leave Wilmington, despite the difficulty and heartache, because the port city was his home.
In recent years, Tindall has faced health challenges, but he continues to strive toward the day that Gov. Perdue declares he and the other nine members of the Wilmington Ten receive pardons of actual innocence.
Tindall still harbors some anger for how his life was ruined, how his dreams were destroyed, all because of a false persecution, and prosecution by the state of North Carolina.
“If you want to do something for me, then pay me for those 4 ½ to five years I sat up in that penitentiary for nothing,” he demands. “Vindicate me.”
Tindall concluded by asking, “Why us?”
On Friday, August 3, 2012, Connie Tindall, who had recently been to the hospital for minor surgery, developed complications, and reportedly died on his was back to the hospital.
"Long live the spirit and memory of Connie Tindall," said Rev. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten. "God bless the Tindall family. RIP Connie."
We will miss him.
          In memory of Connie Tindall, Anne Shepard, Jerry Jacobs and Joe Wright, please click on the link below to our Change.Org petition page that asks NC Gov. Beverly Perdue to grant pardons of innocence to all of the Wilmington Ten.

                                   |Start an Online Petition

        Thank you



  1. I met Connie Tyndall when he addressed a class I was taking last fall. This kind, gentle and funny man should not have died without a pardon. He was a big, tall man who could have been a professional football player had he not been in prison. I am so glad I had the pleasure of meeting him. I hope that God gives him the peace he has so long searched for on Earth.

  2. may the Heavenly Father bless this brother with Eternal life, for he is now at peace, away from this wicked and unjust world. I pray that he and the other survivors of the Ten get pardoned, albeit posthumously for Mr. Tindall. My condolences to his family.

  3. This could easily have been one of our brother(s), father(s), husband(s)....its so sad; my only consolation is that his life made such an impact, he was Divinely chosen for this path. The innocent suffer under the regime of Amerikka yet our prayers and actions for justice are imperishable.