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Exoneration of Kwame Ajamu

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On Tuesday, December 9, Kwame Ajamu (formerly Ronnie Bridgeman) will finally be exonerated and the case against him dismissed. Kwame has been living with this wrongful conviction since 1975, and though he was released from prison on parole in 2003, he served 28 years for a crime he did not commit, the first of those years on death row.

After being released on parole, Kwame’s wrongful conviction has continued to have an impact on his life, barring him from becoming a fulltime employee at work and preventing him from gaining access to other opportunities.

Kwame was only 17 when he was arrested and wrongfully convicted, and after his release, and had to make his way without ever having been outside of prison as an adult.

Nonetheless, Kwame always remained hopeful that his brother, Wiley Bridgeman, and best friend, Ricky Jackson, would one day be released from prison, and that the justice system would one day recognize the innocence of all three men. Kwame continued to search for a path to exoneration.

When Wiley Bridgeman and Ricky Jackson were exonerated and released from prison on November 21, 2014, Kwame has taken on a key role in helping his brother and best friend settle into life outside of prison. He has opened his home to them and is doing all he can to facilitate their transition.

Any support for Kwame, to aid in his household and other costs in this time of transition, or in recognition of his 28 years in prison and the continued limitations due to wrongful conviction, will be greatly appreciated. All money raised through this campaign will go directly to Kwame Ajamu.

More information about this case is below. GoFundMe suggests we include the following:

"Transparency is always the best policy and we ask that you include the following information in your campaign description:"

1. Who you are

Abraham J. Bonowitz is administering this campaign on behalf of Ohioans to Stop Executions, which was asked to do this by Terry Gilbert, one of Kwame Ajamu's attorneys. Our press release is here (will be issued shortly). OTSE is a nonprofit organization incorporated in Ohio.

2. Where you're from

Ohioans to Stop Executions is headquartered at 9 E. Long St. in Columbus, Ohio.

3. Your relationship to the parties you're raising funds for

Kwame Ajamu was released from in 2003, but his charges were only dismissed in November, 2014. His formal exoneration hearing is on December 9.  We look forward to meeting him. Abraham Bonowitz has known Ajamu's attorney, Terry Gilbert, for over 15 years.

4. How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible)

Kwame Ajamu has been held back by his situation as a parolee with a [wrongful] murder conviction. In many ways he is starting life anew after over 39 years.  He was imprisoned over 28 years, including several on death row.

5. How you intend to get the funds to those in need

Funds will be disbursed to Kwame Ajamu via his attorney, Terry Gilbert. Wiley has sole discretion as to the use of your donations.

History of the case:

In 1975, Ronnie Bridgeman (now Kwame Ajamu), his brother Wiley Bridgeman, and friend Ricky Jackson were all convicted for a crime they did not commit. They were all sentenced to death.

The only evidence tying the three young men to the crime was a 12 year old boy who said he was an eyewitness. An investigative reporter dug into the case, eventually publishing a thorough story on their probable innocence.

After this story was published, the Ohio Innocence Project learned that the 12 year old boy was, in fact, pressured by the police to identify Wiley, Ricky, and Ronnie.

The 12 year old boy, now a 52 year old man, came forward last year to recant his testimony. He confessed that he had not seen the crime, and that he never saw Wiley, Ricky, or Ronnie commit the crime for which they had been convicted. This recantation eliminated the only evidence against the men.

All three men sought new trials in light of this recantation. After a hearing in Ricky Jackson's case on November 17th and 18th, 2014, the State conceded that based on the total recantation, they would move to dismiss the charges against Wiley, Ricky, and Ronnie.

On November 21, 2014, the State dropped all charges. Wiley and Ricky were finally able to leave prison.

After approximately 39 years in prison, Wiley and Ricky have nothing. Kwame Ajamu has many needs and is helping Wiley and Ricky adjust to life in freedom. Your donations will be given directly to Kwame to help rebuild his life. All money raised through this fundraiser will go directly to Kwame Ajamu.

Please note: for those who don't like to use credit cards on-line, checks made to “OTSE” with “Exoneration Fund” in the memo line may be sent to Ohioans to Stop Executions, 9 E. Long St., Suite 202., Columbus, Ohio 43215. OTSE will re-distribute all such funds appropriately.

To find out more about the case, visit the sites below:

http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/11/wiley_bridgeman_leaves_behind.html

http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/11/brothers_convicted_in_1975_mur.html

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2014/11/18/ricky-jackson-to-be-released-from-prison-friday-after-39-years-of-being-wrongfully-incarcerated

http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/what-the-boy-saw/Content?oid=2598138

Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 9 yrs

Organizer

Abraham J. Bonowitz
Organizer
Cleveland, OH

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