Mixed Guilty Verdict Against First Vaughn 17 Trial Group
The Delaware courts have issued guilty verdicts for two of the defendants of the first trial group for the Vaughn 17. Only one person, Dwayne Staats, was found guilty of murder, Jarreau Ayers was found found guilty of kidnapping and assault, and Deric Forney was found not guilty of all charges.
Dwayne and Jarreau were forced to represent themselves due to insufficient legal representation. Despite having no physical evidence connecting Dwayne to the murder he was still convicted, based solely on the word of a cooperator.
In the midst of a trial, particularly one of this magnitude, it is easy to get lost in legal arguments, the moralizing, and the grand sweeping statements from the press, prosecutors and politicians. But as the smoke clears and the dust settles, this trial, and the uprising in general is about the inhumane and barbaric conditions inmates in the US are forced to suffer.
The Vaughn 17 were protesting for very basic improvements, which are routinely ignored. Dwayne Staats’ testimony reiterates the painstaking process of attempting to be heard in a society that consistently renders black voices, and especially black incarcerated voices, silent; a society that deems it acceptable to coldly and in a calculated way, rip the humanity the away from those it incarcerates. The Vaughn 17, and many others who were incarcerated at Smyrna prior to the uprising, had protested, cried, and plead to be treated humanely. The uprising was a last resort to ask for better treatment, but the judgement confirmed that those incarcerated should have no voice and should accept this treatment.
While this outcome is a hardly surprising result from white supremacist America, we would like to celebrate the principled stance of the Vaughn 17. They stood strong in their solidarity and did not implicate each other and have successfully politicized their trial. In light of the prisoner led anti-slavery campaign, the Vaughn 17 is proudly poised as an important voice and example in this movement. We will continue amplifying their voices, making their case known and struggle along side them as these trials continue, and they face their sentences.
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!